Fillings in Van Nuys, CA
It is a fact lamented by many: Most of us adults have had at least one cavity. Some of us have quite a few more than one cavity.
One of the most common issues we as dentists face today with our patients is the presence of decay and the need for fillings. In the past, options for how fillings were done were limited, and for many years, a mixture of metal was used to fill in tooth decay. Now a thing of the past, these “amalgam” fillings have been replaced by composite fillings that look like part of the natural tooth structure. These not only look better in the mouth—unlike the dark gray metal fillings dentists used to do—but they actually strengthen the structure of the tooth.
The Types of Fillings Available
Two of the most common types of fillings available are amalgam and composite. Amalgams are being used less and less these days, with most dentists and patients preferring the more modern composite type.
Amalgams have been used by dentists for decades and with great success given their low cost, durability, and resistance to wear. They were a good option, in particular, for molars in the back of the mouth because they are strong and able to withstand the force of chewing. Typically, they are made up of a combination of metals, including silver, tin, copper, mercury, and other metals.
For all their practicality, however, amalgams come with some drawbacks as well. Obviously they are not attractive, given their dark gray color, so they are not a good option for using where they would be visible in a person’s mouth. Quite a bit of the natural tooth has to be removed in order to place them. If you have ever had a metal filling, you have likely experienced sensitivity to hot or cold for a short period after you received the restoration. In addition, they have a tendency to expand and contract, which places a lot of pressure on the tooth structure and usually leads to fractures or cracks on the tooth or a broken, leaking filling.
First introduced in the dental community in the 1980s, composite fillings have grown both in popularity and quality since then. Made up of microscopic-sized particles of glass or quartz, they match the color of a natural tooth, so they are virtually invisible. This makes them a good option for not only filling cavities that might be visible when a person speaks or smiles, but also for repairing chips and cracks.
Another benefit is that they bond to the structure of the tooth, ultimately strengthening the tooth—even under the force of chewing; plus, less of the natural tooth needs to be compromised when the dentist is prepping for the filling. These fillings are not conducive to hot and cold sensitivity.
The Procedure for Filling a Tooth
After the area around the tooth with the decay is numbed, the decay is removed from the tooth. Next, your dentist will ensure that there is no bacteria or debris of any kind in the area to be filled. Once the filling material is put into the tooth, your dentist will trim any excess material and shape it so it is comfortable to bite down. The final, well-fitting filling will then be polished.
Call Us for an Appointment
If you think you might need a filling, call our office right away. We can go over filling options with you to determine which might be best for your situation.