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Stay Natural with Tooth-Colored Fillings

If you’re over a certain age, chances are you have one or more metal fillings and/or crowns in your mouth. Until recently, dental patients have been told that repairing slightly decayed or damaged teeth with tooth-colored fillings was only recommended for cosmetic purposes, and that they may not be as durable as traditional amalgam metal fillings. This philosophy is now considered passé. With the modern technologies of dental adhesion and improved quality of composite resins, tooth-colored fillings are close to rivaling nature in strength, function, and appearance. At Vaca & Kirby Dental, we can provide natural looking tooth-colored fillings at our Longview dental office. These natural looking fillings improve the strength of your smile, preserve greater quantities of healthy tooth structure, and look great too. In fact, your mouth will look and feel like new, and you may not even remember which tooth was treated. If you think you may need tooth-colored fillings in Longview (or anywhere in the East Texas area) be sure to give us a call. We’ll be glad to schedule a consultation visit at our dental offices in Longview to examine your smile and help you find the best dental restoration solutions. Always feel free to call our team if you have questions about any of our services. We’re here to help.

Dental team member and patient in chair giving thumbs up

Smiling woman in dental chair giving thumbs up

What are Tooth-Colored Fillings Made of?

Tooth-colored fillings are mad out of a highly biocompatible composite resin material. Typically, these resins include a mixture of plastics and glasses that can be precisely shaded to match your smile. Unlike amalgam metal fillings that can include a number of not biocompatible and potentially toxic materials like mercury, tooth-colored composites are safe and effective, allowing even those patients with allergies and sensitivity to metal to repair their smiles to full, flawless function. These composite resins also fill in even the smallest crevices and pits in the surfaces of patients’ teeth improving their strength and preserving the maximum amount of healthy tooth structure.

Do Tooth-Colored Fillings Last?

There are now 16 year-long studies showing that with properly administered technique and thorough daily cleaning and care, these advanced tooth-colored composite resin fillings have now surpassed traditional amalgams in delivering effective restorative dentistry. With these new materials, it is possible to bond teeth back together, virtually restoring them to their original strength without the invasiveness of metal fillings. In the majority of circumstances, tooth-colored fillings can be placed with techniques that are more conservative. It is therefore possible to preserve the healthy remaining tooth structure. Providing East Texas with these strong and effective tooth-colored fillings and other conservative restoration solutions is one of our primary goals. 

Man in dental chair looking at x-rays

Are Composite Fillings Safer than Metal Fillings?

The research is still in progress to determine whether or not the amount of certain toxic materials in amalgam fillings is hazardous. However, there are many other reasons why using composite resin may be safer for your teeth, including:

  • Amalgam fillings require the removal of healthy tooth structure to create wedges that hold the filling in place. Tooth-colored fillings allow patients to maintain all of their healthy tooth structure.
  • Amalgam metal expands and contracts at a higher rate than healthy tooth structure. Over time, this can allow bacteria to accumulate between the tooth and filling, and it can crack the tooth enamel, causing more serious damage.
  • Amalgam metals can cause dental sensitivity when the tooth is exposed to heat and cold, which can limit a patient’s ability to comfortably consume certain foods or drinks.

Do I Need to get Metal Fillings Replaced?

Not necessarily. If your metal amalgam fillings are still functional, you don’t necessarily need to have them removed and replaced. However, if your filling has started to shift or is damaged, replacement with tooth-colored fillings may be your best option. If you want to have your metal amalgam fillings replaced, we are happy to discuss the benefits and potential disadvantages of amalgam filling removal and replacement.

How are Tooth-Colored Fillings Placed?

Closeup of woman holing toothbrush and dental equipment

Tooth-colored fillings are placed in just one appointment. We’ll begin by numbing the area around the tooth to be treated. Then, we remove any decayed or damaged teeth. Next, we apply an acidic etchant material to the teeth creating a more porous surface before we apply the composite resin. The putty-like resin can be directly placed onto the tooth. Once in place, we shape the tooth-colored filling material to seamlessly recreate lost tooth structure. Finally, we apply a low-heat curing light to harden the composite resin into place. The repaired tooth is smoothed and polished, leaving you with a healthy, natural looking smile.

What is Direct Bonding?

Direct bonding, also called cosmetic bonding, is the use of composite resin to repair or conceal cosmetic flaws. Just like tooth-colored fillings, this cosmetic treatment can be completed in just one trip to our office. For many patients, direct bonding is a same day, budget-friendly alternative to porcelain veneers to correct chips, cracks, stains, and gaps in teeth, creating flawless smiles. Direct bonding is not recommended for extensive dental flaws, but for small treatment areas, this treatment may be an effective solution that improves the appearance and strength of cosmetically flawed teeth.

How do I Care for My Teeth Following Filling Placement?

After your tooth-colored fillings are in place, you should continue to brush twice a day, floss daily, and visit our team for biannual dental checkups and teeth cleanings. However, you may want to consider changing your oral hygiene products to avoid unnecessary wear to your new filling. You should always use a soft or ultra soft bristled toothbrush and minimally abrasive toothpaste. In some cases, switching to a waxed floss is beneficial to avoid snagging on any edges. You may also want to avoid or limit your intake of certain foods and drinks. Unlike ceramic and porcelain restorations that are stain resistant, composite resin fillings will absorb staining materials like the porous natural surfaces of teeth, leading to staining and discoloration over time. If you’re a smoker or tobacco user, your filling will become discolored more quickly.

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