Until recently, dentists filled and sealed cavities exclusively using a silver with mercury amalgam. Unfortunately, these fillings often weaken teeth due to the large amount of the original tooth that had to be removed. They were also non-aesthetic, which is unacceptable for our now very beauty-conscious society.
Dentistry has been using composite fillings as a strong, safe, and more natural-looking alternative to the dark gray or black fillings of the past. Composite fillings utilize a soft white plastic substance that includes a bonding agent that allows the material to adhere to the dentin and enamel of the tooth structure. This final curing or hardening of the composite material is done with an ultraviolet curing light that permanently bonds the composite to the tooth.
Pros and Cons of Composite Fillings
The major advantage of these fillings is that they come in a range of shades that closely match the color of an individual's tooth. Increased strength and durability of composite material allow for use in the back teeth. The cost of these composite restorations are minimal compared to crowns or veneers.
The Filling Procedures
Dr. Miles will begin by anesthetizing the area being worked on, following the placement of topical anesthetic. She will then begin to remove any old filling material if required and remove any existing decay that is present. Once the tooth has been prepared, she places the cleanser on the tooth and adds the desensitizer to the surface and then the bond, which allows the composite to adhere to the tooth. This process is typically performed in several layers, after which it is cured or hardened with the use of a curing light. Composite fillings for the back teeth are done in one visit in the office.
Composite veneers use composite material, either a plastic or resin, which is bonded to an existing tooth. Composite veneers are used for broken teeth, discolored teeth, and/or filling in spaces of misaligned teeth. Whatever the specific intent, composite bonding creates more aesthetically pleasing teeth and a brighter smile. With this type of veneer, there is very little removal of the tooth surface, but in some cases the tooth does need to be shaved down some.
The Advantages of Bonding
Composite bonding is a quick process, compared to veneers or crowns. It is a popular choice because most often it does not require reduction of the tooth structure. It only requires one visit, many shades are available, and it is less expensive than porcelain veneers. However, the longevity of these types of plastic restorations is shorter than that of their porcelain counterparts. Many times, whitening techniques can be used to enhance the color of the surrounding teeth before the bonding is done, so that we can match the shade of the whitened teeth.
SANDRA L. MILES, DDS, PA
1 NORTH 16th STREET, WILMINGTON, NC 28401 - 910-815-0811