Natural teeth are susceptible to damage from various elements, including harmful bacteria that cause cavities and dangerous habits like bruxism. Tooth damage starts slowly and escalates with time. But dentists have quick and effective solutions for damaged teeth before much of the tooth is lost in the damage. For example, your dentist can recommend composite fillings to restore the lost tooth's structure, strength, and functionality.

Composite fillings are preferred for their affordability and durability. Additionally, they look exactly like your natural teeth. Thus, no one can tell you have a tooth filling by just looking at your teeth. This restores your confidence to smile and socialize without worrying about the effect of tooth damage on your facial appearance.

Our general dentists at Tayani Dental Group have extensive knowledge of composite fillings. Thus, we are the right team to speak to if you are worried about your damaged teeth in Fullerton. We will comprehensively examine your teeth to discuss your treatment options and preferences.

An Overview of Composite Fillings

Although the enamel is the toughest part of the body, it can be weakened and damaged by excessive force or pressure and harmful bacteria. If you have experienced facial trauma and have injured your teeth, you are advised to seek treatment immediately. Using damaged or weakened teeth will worsen the situation, resulting in a more painful and costly dental problem. The same advice applies to people who have damaged their teeth through grinding, clenching, or cavities. Fortunately, treatment for minor tooth damage is less costly and more effective. They also save you from experiencing harsh symptoms like toothaches and sensitivity.

Dentists have a wide range of solutions to damaged teeth. The treatment your dentist recommends depends on the nature of the damage, its extent, and the location of your damaged tooth in the mouth. Dentists can diagnose and treat minor tooth damage immediately after an injury or during regular dental examinations and checkups. Dental fillings are common with minor damages as they restore the structure and functionality of the tooth. They also protect the tooth from further damage.

For example, suppose your teeth are developing a cavity. In that case, the dentist can remove the affected part of the tooth and then fill it with a dental filling material to restore its shape and prevent the cavity from spreading to the rest of the tooth or adjacent teeth. You can benefit from dental fillings if you habitually clench or grind your teeth and notice that one or more have worn down. But the dentist will advise you and help you stop the habit to avoid damaging the treated tooth or your remaining teeth.

Dentists use different types of dental fillings when treating damaged teeth. Until recently, only special metal alloys were used to fill damaged teeth. However, advancing technology has brought significant changes, introducing modern dental fillings that work even better. Composite fillings are among the newest additions in the field of dentistry. They differ from other dental fillings because they are durable, affordable, and aesthetic. They bond well to the natural tooth, requiring minimal or zero repair after application. Compared to traditional metal fillings, composite fillings look like natural teeth.

Alternatives to Composite Fillings

If your tooth damage only requires a filling, your dentist will recommend and explain several options to help you make an informed decision. Each dental filling option comes with unique advantages and disadvantages. Common alternatives to composite fillings include the following:

Amalgam Fillings

These are the most common dental fillings. They are silver and have been around for a very long time. For a very long time, dentists have been using amalgam fillings to repair minor tooth damage, especially cavities. They are still loved today for their durability. An amalgam filling can remain intact for more than fifteen years.

Also, the application process for amalgam fillings is easy since the dentist does not have to prepare the tooth much to install the filling. Once the dentist removes the damaged part of the tooth, they can fill the damaged area to restore the tooth's structure and functionality. Additionally, the amalgam material is less costly, which makes the entire process inexpensive.

However, amalgam fillings are silver-colored, which has affected their popularity over recent years. The different colors make them look unnatural.

Gold Fillings

Gold dental fillings are mainly used for aesthetic purposes, hence their high cost. However, they are strong, durable, and can remain solid for over twenty years. You require more than one visit to the dentist’s office to receive gold dental fillings.

If you need a more natural look for your damaged tooth, there are better choices than gold fillings, which are gold-colored.

Ceramic Dental Fillings

Ceramic fillings are made from porcelain, hence their long-lasting quality. They can remain solid and functional for more than fifteen years. But they are not very popular and are expensive. You must also book more than two appointments with your dentist for the application.

Glass Ionomer Dental Fillings

These are dental fillings made with glass fillers. They are similar to composite fillings because they look and feel like natural teeth. Dentists can also change their shade slightly to blend perfectly with your natural teeth. Thus, they are less obtrusive than most options mentioned above. Glass ionomers also release fluoride, which protects your teeth from cavities.

However, they are not solid and durable. You will require another filling sooner rather than later. Additionally, they are not suitable for significant tooth damage.

Composite Fillings Benefits

Composite fillings are highly recommended for dental fillings because of their several benefits. For example, they address many unique dental problems, can be molded for a perfect fit on the tooth, and bond easily and quickly with natural teeth. They are also durable and pleasing to the eye. Here are some of the benefits of composite fillings to consider as you choose your preferred treatment for your damaged teeth:

The Procedure is Non-Invasive

Many people are skeptical about dental visits for fear of pain and discomfort that could occur during some invasive dental or oral treatments. This can explain why some people ignore a cavity until it worsens. Fortunately, not all dental treatments are invasive. Some involve simple and painless procedures that prevent major life-threatening issues. Installing a composite filling is one of the most straightforward dental procedures you will undergo in a dentist’s office. It is painless, requires only one appointment with the dentist, and requires only a few minutes of your time.

The application of composite fillings does not require extensive preparation of the damaged tooth. Your dentist must only create a bonding surface on the affected tooth’s enamel. Once the filling is in place, it bonds entirely with the tooth, creating a protective shell on its surface to protect the underlying structures and prevent further damage.

Composite Filling Bonds and Hardens Quickly

The filling material is made to bond perfectly with the natural tooth and hardens almost immediately after application. The dentist only needs to shine an LED light on the filling to cure it after application. This quickens the hardening process, reducing your time in the dentist’s office. The minimal preparation your damaged tooth needs before the filling is installed reduces your treatment time significantly. Thus, if you are anxious about visiting a dentist’s office, you can have this treatment in no time.

Composite Fillings Are Highly Versatile

Dentists use composite fillings for a wide range of applications. Your dentist can recommend them to solve different dental issues. For example, they can restore the structure and function of your damaged tooth. They can also improve your smile and confidence. You can benefit from a composite filling if you have a cavity, cracked, or chipped tooth. Your dentist can also use the filling to close gaps between your teeth.

They Restore Tooth Structure and Strength

A severely damaged tooth loses its structure and strength. It is typically challenging to chew or bite once there is damage to your tooth. A composite filling can restore the structure and strength of your teeth. Then, you can resume using the tooth like you did before the damage. You can enjoy your favorite foods without worrying about pain or damage to the tooth or the filling. Remember that once the tooth is filled with the composite material, it bonds entirely with the tooth, giving it back its structure and strength.

Composite Fillings Reduce Tooth Sensitivity

Your tooth becomes sensitive once its inner structure is exposed to external elements. It is an indication that something is not right with the tooth. Some tooth damage exposes a tooth’s sensitive structures, causing it to become highly sensitive to cold or hot foods or drinks. Intensive sensitivity will make it difficult for you to enjoy your foods or beverages. But composite fillings help with sensitivity. They bond with the damaged tooth to cover the exposed structures. Dental fillings act as insulators to protect a tooth’s inner structure from exposure and damage.

Treatment With Composite Filling Is Repairable

Once the dentist fills your damaged tooth with composite filling, you can use your teeth as before. Although the composite is strong enough to withstand everyday use and pressure, it could weaken with time. The filing does not remain the same after years, necessitating a repair. Fortunately, this type of treatment is repairable. The dentist will simply clean out the affected part and reapply the composite to restore the look and structure of your tooth. Thus, if you damage your filling after some time, you can always return to your dentist’s office for a repair. The repair is cheaper than the initial application.

The Disadvantages

Although composite fillings have many benefits, there are disadvantages to note for easier decision-making. Some of the disadvantages include the following:

They Are Less Durable Than Amalgam

When choosing dental fillings for your damaged teeth, your dentist will explain your options to help you narrow down your choice. When selecting between composite and amalgam fillings, you must consider their lifespan. Notably, amalgam can serve you for a longer period of time than composite fillings.

Composite Fillings Are Costlier Than Amalgam

Again, if cost is a significant consideration factor, it helps to know that composite fillings will cost you more than traditional amalgam dental fillings. That could be an issue if you are working with a strict budget.

The Application Process Can Take Long

Remember that composite fillings can be used for minor to significant tooth damage. If your tooth is severely damaged, it can take longer to fill it than it could for minor damage. This is because the dentist needs to make a few layers of the application to ensure the damage is completely covered, and your tooth’s structure is restored.

It Requires a Completely Dry Tooth

A composite filling cannot attach appropriately to a wet surface. The dentist must ensure the tooth is completely dry before filling it. Drying a tooth and keeping it that way until the end of the procedure is challenging for dentists.

Composite Fillings Application Process

The application process is relatively straightforward; dentists complete these applications in a single appointment. Here are some of the steps your dentist will take during the treatment process:

Selecting the Color

Composite fillings come in different shades, according to the various shades of the natural teeth. Your dentist will begin the process by helping you select a perfect shade for your teeth. The shade must match the exact shade of your teeth to create a natural look and feel. Dentists recommend starting with this step before the mouth and teeth dry to make a perfect selection.

Preparing for Treatment

Your dentist will give you a shot of local anesthesia to numb the treatment site and its surroundings. This will keep you calm and relaxed throughout the application process. The anesthesia used here is in small quantities and is not enough to trigger an allergic reaction.

Preparing the Tooth For Treatment

If your tooth has a cavity, the dentist will remove the decayed part by drilling into the tooth’s enamel. This process stops decay to ensure your tooth remains healthy and robust after treatment.

The dentists will then clean out the prepared tooth to remove any harmful bacteria that could continue affecting the tooth after treatment. Then, they will dry the treatment site and surrounding area to make it easier for the composite filling to bond with the tooth.

Application of the Filling

Once the tooth is ready for treatment, the dentist will start applying the composite filling layers to the affected part of the tooth. They must do this carefully to cover the entire cavity or crack. This prevents the tooth from trapping food particles, which could result in bacterial growth, cavities, and infections. Once the whole tooth is well covered with the filling, the dentist will allow it to dry and bond entirely with the tooth.

They could speed up drying by curing the filling with an LED light. This sets it pretty fast, reducing your time in the dentist’s office. If the dentist uses an LED light to cure the filling, they will do so with every layer of the filling they apply to ensure it sets well.

Shaping and Contouring The Tooth

The treated tooth may need to be shaped and contoured to give it a perfect shape and structure. The dentist will use a specialized tool to do so. They could also polish the treated tooth to give it a smooth finish. The polishing is necessary to avoid injuring your tooth.

Once the application is complete, the dentist will test to see if your teeth are as perfect as possible. For example, they can confirm your bite to ensure it is good. Your dentist could also ask how you feel to gauge your comfort with the new installation.

After-Treatment Care

If everything is okay with your filings, you can go home. But before then, your dentist will give you a few after-care instructions to ensure your composite fillings serve you for the recommended period. For example, your dentist will advise you against clenching or grinding your teeth, as this will damage your filling and other teeth. They will also require you to carefully and gently brush around the filling for a few days until the application cures completely.

Find a Competent General Dentist Near Me

If you seek treatment for a damaged tooth in Fullerton, a general dentist can recommend several options and allow you to choose your preferred choice. Your choice will depend on your preference, desired results, the cause of damage, and the tooth's position in the mouth. Composite fillings could be the way to go if you need a durable, robust, and natural-looking treatment. They are easy and quick to apply, less invasive, and cost-friendly. We can help you understand everything you need about composite fillings at Tayani Dental Group. Our general dentists can also take you through the treatment process to ensure you are satisfied with your treated teeth. Call us at 949-741-0795 to learn about composite fillings and our services.