Enjoy a More Natural Smile with Composite Dental Fillings
Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic health conditions. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent it, and in cases where decay is unavoidable, a dental filling is an affordable, natural-looking, and safe solution. Not only are our fillings at Smile Design of Northern Virginia some of the most aesthetic restorations available today, but they are strong and long-lasting as well.
Dental Fillings—The Best Solution for Tooth Restoration
At Smile Design of Northern Virginia, we rely on high-quality materials, latest technology, and advanced techniques to create restorations for our patients that last a lifetime. Our goal is to create results that are designed to be virtually undetectable. We use tooth-colored fillings as restorations when our patients have:
- Tooth decay
- Chipped teeth
- Cracked teeth
How do I know if I need a filling?
If you are experiencing discomfort in your teeth, you may be a good candidate for a filling. Teeth sensitivity is an effective indicator of decay or fracture. When you come in for an evaluation, Drs. Lam, Marcellin or Ngo direct you to the appropriate dental treatment for your situation. We typically recommend fillings as the best solution for restoring teeth that have severe tooth decay, cracks, chips and cavities.
Cavity Prevention — What can I do to prevent the need for a filling?
The best way to fight cavities and maintain healthy gums and teeth is to keep up on your daily habit of proper oral hygiene. Here are 5 ways to ward off tooth decay and prevent cavities:
- Come in to our office for a comprehensive oral exam and regular cleanings.
- Brush after meals and use an antimicrobial mouthwash.
- Drink more water and cut back on sugary and acidic drinks.
- Develop the habit of flossing every night.
- Avoid smoking.
Dental Fillings—The Process
The procedure for placing a composite resin dental filling is a routine treatment that we do every day at Smile Design of Northern Virginia. Here’s how it works:
- Drs. Lam, Marcellin or Ngo isolate the tooth from saliva to keep it dry.
- Any dental decay is removed.
- An etchant and a bonding agent are applied, followed by the composite resin.
- A special light is used to harden each layer of composite resin material.
- After the tooth is filled, the composite resin is shaped to resemble a real tooth.
- Finally, the restoration is smoothed and polished to accommodate your bite.
What’s the difference between a filling and an inlay/onlay?
A filling does what it says it does—it is filling in a cavity, a hole that has been created by decay or trauma, essentially restoring normal tooth anatomy. When we create a filling from composite resin, we shade the white material so that it blends naturally with your surrounding tooth structure. The result is a restoration that is practically invisible.
Inlays and onlays are used when the damage or decay to a tooth requires more than a filling—but less than a crown. In other words, if your tooth does not have enough tooth structure for a filling but it is not so severely damaged that it warrants a crown, you may be an excellent candidate for an inlay or onlay.
Made of porcelain, an inlay is crafted at a dental lab by an expert ceramist and cemented into or onto the center of the tooth, inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay covers the top chewing surface of the tooth. We use porcelain because it very closely mimics enamel and offers decades of strength and security.
What are composite resin fillings and restorations?
Composite resin fillings are the most common alternative to dental amalgam. They are sometimes called “tooth-colored” or “white” fillings because of their color. Composite resin fillings are made of a type of plastic (an acrylic resin) reinforced with powdered glass filler. Composite resin is often placed in layers to build up the final restoration, then cured with an “ultra-violet light”. This light energy speeds up a chemical reaction of the components causing the soft material to harden and bond to the tooth. This material is considered safe. The color (shade) of composite resins can be customized to closely match surrounding teeth. This plastic and glass mixture contains no metal and can be shaped to resemble a real tooth. It is usually hard to tell that a tooth has even been filled!
Composite resin fillings have several advantages. The “white” color is preferred by many patients due to its ability to blend in with surrounding teeth. It is also possible to make a more conservative preparations when using composite material, thus enabling the dentist to preserve more natural tooth structure.
- Benefits of Composite Resin Restorations
- Preferred white/natural-looking color
- Better for smaller fillings
- Preservation of more tooth structure
Since the resin used in tooth-colored restorations contains fluoride, it can help prevent decay. The resin wears like natural teeth and does not require placement at the gum line, another advantage that reinforces gum health.
What’s wrong with metal/amalgam fillings?
In addition to being more aesthetically pleasing, composite fillings are completely safe and non-toxic. However, some believe that none of these advantages ring true for metal fillings. Some research suggests that amalgam fillings—made with mercury, silver, tin, copper and other metals—may lead to health problems.
The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded that both amalgam and composite materials are considered safe and effective for tooth restoration.
We are excited to be able to restore decayed teeth to their optimal appearance and function with fillings, inlays, and onlays. At Smile Design of Northern Virginia, we use dental fillings to help adult and pediatric patients preserve their healthy, beautiful teeth and avoid additional damage.
The result of high-quality composite fillings is a beautiful, healthy smile. For more information about our dental fillings, call our office today! Fairfax Office Phone Number 703-865-6677