Dental Fillings in Fairfield, CT
Aesthetic Dentistry of Fairfield
What is a Dental Filling?
If you have a cavity, your dentist will remove the decayed portion of your tooth and then “fill” the area that was removed with dental filling material. Dental fillings can also be used to rebuild and restore cracked, broken, or worn down teeth from tooth grinding. Temporary fillings are used after root canals, dental emergency treatments, or fillings where multiple appointments are needed for dental crown placements or dental implants to protect the tooth.
Fillings can help maintain your natural teeth and help avoid other dental issues that can be detrimental to your oral health. Any treatment requiring fillings should be done as soon as possible to avoid further progression of decay or more breakage of teeth.
Types of Dental Fillings
Dr. Lee is an expert in restorative dental procedures and will help you decide which filling type will best fit your needs. We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each type of material so you can make the best decision for your dental health.
Here are some of the most common types of dental fillings used:
Composite, Tooth-Colored Fillings
Tooth-colored fillings, also called composite or resin fillings, are made of a polymer-based material that is closely matched to the color of your teeth for a more natural and aesthetic look. As they are tooth-colored, composite fillings are highly popular and are now largely considered the norm over the more classic and conventional amalgam silver fillings.
Composite fillings are composed of a resin-based matrix and an inorganic filler. Because composite fillings can bond directly to the enamel, our doctor is able to treat dental decay conservatively and minimize the amount of tooth structure that has to be removed. Due to their bonding capabilities, composite resins are highly versatile and can be used to repair chipped, broken, or worn teeth. Composites are particularly well-suited for use on front teeth or in visible areas of the smile; they are available in many different shades which can be used to mix and match and blend into the surrounding teeth.
Despite their many advantages, composite fillings are more technique sensitive than traditional silver amalgam fillings. Composite fillings are also subject to shrinkage and can stain over time. Dr. Lee is highly skilled at composite restorations, and always use meticulous care during placement to ensure longevity of the filling.
Amalgam Silver Fillings
Before composites were first introduced in the late 1960s, silver amalgam fillings used to be the only type of fillings available. They are a very common type of metal filling used to treat dental decay. Amalgam is composed of liquid mercury and a powder containing silver, tin, copper, zinc, and other metals.
Amalgams are a safe and effective treatment for tooth decay; they are approved by the FDA and are still in use today. However, composite resins have largely replaced dental amalgams as primary filling material, mainly due to its silver color and concerns over mercury vapors. Amalgam fillings require more tooth structure to be removed before placement, resulting in reduced and weakened tooth structure; eventually this reduced tooth structure can accumulate cracks, fractures, and sensitivity. The metal ions can also cause discoloration and a greyish hue may develop in the tooth over time.
The greatest advantage of silver amalgam fillings is that it does not require bonding like composite resins– this means that it can be used in tricky areas where isolation from saliva is an issue. The choice of dental treatments rests with our doctor and our patients; Dr. Lee will thoroughly discuss the treatment options for fillings so that you can make the best decision for your dental health.
Porcelain Inlays and Onlays
Porcelain inlays or onlays are called indirect fillings, and are used when there is a large amount of tooth structure lost due to decay or fracture. Indirect fillings should be considered when not enough tooth structure remains to support a filling, but the tooth is not so severely damaged that it requires a dental crown.
Porcelain inlays and onlays are considered a material upgrade from composite resin as it is more structurally stable and is subject to less shrinkage than composite resins. Porcelain is also very color stable, is highly resistant to staining, and can resist biting and chewing forces better than composite resins.
Porcelain fillings generally require two visits for placement. During the first visit, decay or an old filling is removed, and the tooth is cleaned. An impression is taken to record the shape of the tooth being repaired and the teeth next to it. A temporary filling is placed to protect the tooth while the porcelain filing is being made; the impression is sent to a dental lab that will fabricate the porcelain filling. During the second visit, the temporary filling is removed, our dentist will check the fit of the porcelain restoration, and it will be permanently cemented into place.
Dr. Lee will evaluate the best treatment options for your particular tooth and situation. She will discuss all advantages and disadvantages of each material and help you make the choice that will best serve your long-term dental needs.
Gold Inlays and Onlays
Gold fillings, or more accurately known as gold inlays or onlays, are also a type of indirect filling material that can be used when there is a large amount of tooth structure missing. Gold feels the most like your natural tooth, as it has the closest modulus of hardness as natural enamel; biting and chewing on gold therefore feels the most comfortable.
Gold fillings are typically used for back teeth, as they are yellow in color. Like porcelain fillings, gold fillings require two visits for placement. Gold is extremely durable as gold physically cannot chip, so this is a great material for heavy bruxers or grinders, or for posterior teeth closest to the jaw joint.
The Importance of a Dental Filling
Teeth that are damaged from cavities or decay should be treated in a timely manner as they will not repair themselves. If you do not receive treatment for a filling that you need, there can be consequences to your oral health. Small areas of tooth decay can be treated conservatively with a filling. Destruction of the enamel is irreversible, and if enough time passes, your dentist will not be able to fill the tooth. If this happens, you may need other procedures, such as a root canal, a dental crown, or even tooth extraction.
To avoid receiving more invasive treatment and the need to replace missing teeth with dental implants, it is important to schedule an appointment as soon as possible when a dental filling is needed to treat tooth decay or a broken tooth.
Schedule an Appointment Today at Aesthetic Dentistry of Fairfield
If you need dental treatment for cavities or other restorative procedures in Fairfield, CT, our team is here to help. We welcome all new patients and existing patients in Fairfield to schedule an appointment with us! Call us today at (203) 259-7073.