When you have a minimal tooth fracture, worn down tooth, or a cavity, in Whittier, CA, it is advisable to use dental fillings as a solution. These restorative materials are placed on the damaged tooth to restore its integrity, structure, and functionality. Many materials are used for these procedures, including porcelain, plastic or composite fillings, silver fillings, and gold. At the Whittier Dentist, we recommend composite or white fillings for our patients. The restorative material is made of plastic and glass materials making it a preference to obtain a natural tooth look at a pocket-friendly price.

Understanding Dental Fillings

Dental fillings are a restorative technique commonly used for more than one decayed tooth. Minimal fractures stemming from continuous poor oral habits like teeth grinding and opening bottles using the teeth can also result in dental fillings. When tooth decay and cavities go for long without being attended to can cause a lot of pain and result in other oral problems like tooth sensitivity.

When you visit our offices at The Whittier Dentist with tooth decay or cavities, the dentist will start by removing the area with the decay and then place a dental filling on the opening. Removing the decay and filling the open socket with a filling protects the tooth root from bacterial infection. Furthermore, when the appropriate restorative material is placed, the tooth enamel is no longer exposed to tooth sensitivity, allowing you to enjoy hot and cold meals.

Nonetheless, in some cases where the decay or damage on the tooth is so extensive, the affected teeth will require additional procedures like a root canal, dental implants, and dental crowns.

How Do You Know You Need a Dental Filling?

Tooth decay is the most common oral problem discovered by dentists during routine tooth cleaning and examinations. The dentist will perform an inspection on your teeth using a dental probe or even an x-ray to determine the location and extent of the tooth decay. Your dental expert will evaluate the signs of tooth decay and suggest the best dental filling option. When deciding on the issue, the dentist considers the location of the tooth decay, its extent, the cost of treatment, and your health insurance coverage. Our dentists at The Whittier Dentist will encourage you to use composite fillings because of their multiple benefits, although other filling materials are available.

Filling Materials Used at The Whittier Dentist

Your choice of a dental filling depends on your preference after you have compared all the merits and demerits. At The Whittier Dentist, the most common dental procedures we administer are:

     1. Composite or Plastic Fillings

Composite fillings are known to be white and often resemble the color of the natural tooth. Today, many people prefer these fillings because of their advantages. They are pocket friendly, mimic the color of the natural tooth, and the procedure can be completed within a single appointment. Plastic fillings are made from a mixture of powdered glass and quartz filler, making it quickly assume the natural tooth's appearance. The combination restores the functionality, durability, and structure of the natural tooth.

Also, our dentists only extract a small portion of the damaged part, thus requiring smaller fillings compared to other restoration materials like silver fillings.

Nonetheless, these fillings have their shortcomings. They are susceptible to stains and chipping, so we recommend them only for smaller cavities. Again, they last for five to eight years, meaning they are not very durable.

     2. Silver or Amalgam Filling 

Dental amalgams have been in the industry for centuries, making them the most researched and tested dental fillings. Silver fillings are what you need when looking for a durable, user-friendly, more resistant to wear and tear, and reasonably priced compared to other restoration materials. Although these materials remain part of our treatment options, they are rarely used because of their silver color, whereas many patients are looking for tooth-colored fillings.

Silver fillings are made from an alloy of mercury, silver, tin, and copper, making them highly resistant to wear and tear. However, the mercury content in these restorations raises concerns about their safety. Many studies have been conducted regarding the safety of amalgam fillings because of the mercury content. Luckily, The American Dental Association has ruled that silver fillings are safe for use because the mercury contained in them combines with other metal alloys like silver, tin, and copper, making mercury stable and secure to use.

If you are unsure whether dental amalgams are your best option, you should talk to our dentist. We will recommend composite fillings because they resemble natural teeth giving you the aesthetic appeal you desire.

And because amalgam fillings are highly resistant to tear or chipping, they are perfect for restoring the natural structure and functionality of the molars where a lot of chewing takes place. Also, when deep filling extending below the gum line is involved, silver fillings are the best fit.

     3. Porcelain Fillings 

Also known as lays, porcelain fillings are produced in a dental lab and tailor-made for each tooth. The material is highly resistant to stains, and like composite fillings, it matches the color of the natural tooth, giving you the appearance you desire. However, compared to composite fillings, porcelain is more natural-looking and stain-resistant.

     4. Gold Fillings

Although not commonly used because of their high cost, gold fillings are highly durable and functional as they can last for as much as 20 years. Further, silver or amalgam fillings are more appealing because they blend better with the natural tooth.

Consultation and Treatment Planning

As mentioned earlier, you will barely notice the need for a composite filling unless you schedule an appointment with a dentist. This explains why many patients discover they require dental fillings during routine dental checkups. When you visit us for a decay exam or regular dental cleaning and washing, we will examine your teeth thoroughly to establish whether you have a medical condition that needs our attention. The tools commonly used for the evaluation are X-rays and dental probes.

Once we identify cavities or minimal fractures in your teeth that require fillings, we will advise you on the most suitable options. When the decay or cavities are minor, only a tiny part of the damaged area needs extraction. In these cases, composite fillings are the most appropriate dental filling materials because they are suitable for small spaces. Nonetheless, before we can administer a plastic fillings procedure, we have to put into account:

  • Your medical history
  • The cavity’s location
  • Your beauty needs
  • Biting force
  • Your preferences
  • The number of appointments necessary to complete the procedure
  • Cost of treatment

After considering all these factors, we will help you decide on the most appropriate restorative material from the earlier options. When you opt for composite fillings, the procedure can be completed on the same day. However, before the process starts, you need to request the dentist to walk you through the steps involved in the treatment. Once you know what to expect, you will be ready for the procedure.

The Composite Filling Procedure

Before commencing treatment, the dentist will start by numbing the teeth, gum, and the area surrounding the affected teeth using a local anesthetic. Numbing helps eliminate the pain and discomfort associated with the treatment.

The next stage involves preparing the tooth, gum, and the area around the tooth or teeth to restore its original look and functionality. The dentist will then remove the decay or damaged part of the tooth using a laser or drill. Drilling will only take a few minutes, and during this time, you will experience slight pressure, but this should be no cause for alarm.

Once the decayed part has been extracted, your dentist will cleanse the opening where the decay has been dragged to remove the bacteria and debris that, when left, will cause further deterioration. Note that when the damage to the tooth is extensive, you will require tooth shaving or cavity shaping to prepare the tooth for the dental filling.

When all the preparations are complete, your dentist will place etch, also called shampoo, over the area where the dental composite is placed. The layering of the hole will then begin. A conditioner is set to act as an undercoat and increase the sticking strength of the composite. The dentist will then apply the composite material in layers and use a blue light to cure each layer before proceeding to the next. Setting the composite filling will only take seconds.

Lastly, the dentist will shave and contour the composite material and then polish it to blend with the existing teeth. Before allowing you to leave, the dentist will check your bite for comfort.

Healing and How to Care for the Fillings

Choosing an experienced dentist is not enough. Some of the mistakes you make after the treatment are what causes failure of dental composite, explaining why it is critical to learn about aftercare. At The Whittier Dentist, we walk you through caring for your teeth after the treatment to help you prevent further decay on the restored tooth and other teeth before we allow you to go home. Also, we will guide you on how to care for the teeth as you recover.

After the treatment, you will experience numbness for several hours. Therefore, our dentists recommend that you avoid eating until the anesthetic wears off. That way, you will not bite your tongue or cheek, which will cause further damage to your mouth. Besides, you will experience sensitivity to heat and cold, but this should not worry you because the sensitivity will disappear after some hours. However, when it persists, you should contact your dentist right away.

Similarly, you must brush your teeth twice daily for around two minutes, each time using fluoride toothpaste. After brushing, you should floss the teeth using a string of dental floss at least once daily. Apart from observing healthy oral habits, you must schedule regular appointments with your dentist for checkups and routine cleaning. Typically, you need to go for a professional dental cleaning twice annually because, at these appointments, some oral conditions are identified before developing into major issues.

Also, based on the condition of your teeth, a dentist can recommend the placement of sealants around the molars to deter plaque buildup and decay. Using fluoride rinses or fluoridated water to rinse your mouth reduces the risk of decay and offers your teeth the protection they need to remain healthy. Additionally, you are encouraged to maintain a healthy diet because it is key to maintaining oral health. Again, you are encouraged to limit your sugary beverages and foods between meals because these increase the risk of decay. 

Cost of Treatment

It is common for dental patients who have received amalgam fillings to return to the dentist seeking a better alternative, composite fillings. This is despite dental composite being more costly than conventional silver fillings. Dental composites are more expensive than amalgams because they require extra office equipment, expensive restorative materials, and a complex treatment procedure.

Treatment costs vary from one dental clinic to another, with many factors affecting the price. Therefore, take your time when looking for a dentist for the treatment. An experienced dentist is likely to charge more for their dental services than a new novice to the industry. Therefore, when you pick a more experienced dentist with an excellent reputation, you must be willing to part with more money. However, this should not mean you opt for the novices because even though their prices are low, the quality of their dental services can be compromised.

Also, you must consider the location of the dentist. Dentists in big towns and cities will charge more for their services because their client base is often the rich and celebrities. Additionally, office space and labor in these towns are expensive. They increase the cost of their services to cover these costs. On the other hand, a dentist located in a small town serves people from the locality, and therefore their prices are relatively low compared to those in the cities. When picking a dentist for your treatment, their location should be paramount.

Furthermore, you must consider dental insurance. Sadly, insurance policies do not cover extra costs associated with dental composites, meaning you must dig deep into your pockets to raise money for the treatment. However, even when your insurance does not provide coverage, at The Whittier Dentist, we have other financing options to help you obtain treatment. All you need is to call us and schedule an appointment to walk you through other friendly payment options.

Lastly, the cost of treatment will depend on the number of teeth that require dental composite. If you have one tooth decay, it means only a single tooth surface needs composite fillings, and this will be affordable. However, more teeth surface and composite fillings are required when multiple teeth are affected, hence more money.

When it comes to the cost of treatment, you must consider durability. Dental composites last for up to seven years, while amalgams can last up to twelve years, depending on your oral hygiene and routine checkups.

On average, you will spend between 135 to 325 USD for a single resin dental composite, depending on the number of teeth that require the treatment. The cost is somehow higher than silver fillings by 30 to 40 USD.

Composite Fillings Benefits

The advantage of visiting our dental clinics is that we help you make the right choice of material for your tooth decay or cavities. One of the standard restorative treatments we recommend is composite fillings because of their natural look, which often matches the color of your teeth. With this restoration, people will barely notice you have a fractured or decayed tooth, giving you the confidence you need to live and enjoy life. Let us discuss this and other benefits below:

Visually Appealing  

One significant advantage of dental composites is that it is tooth-colored and thus mimics the look of your natural tooth. Therefore, composite fillings are the way to go when you want to restore your original smile and have a natural appearance. The teeth are commonly used for the front tooth, easily visible when you smile. A composite filling restores your confidence to smile in public again because you are not ashamed of your cavities anymore.

Less Drilling is Required

Many dental patients are afraid of visiting these professionals because of the anxiety and pain associated with dental procedures. If you are dealing with dental anxiety, you are likely to walk out of the dentist’s office when you see them holding a drill or laser ready to extract a significant portion of your damaged teeth. It is the reason your dentist will recommend a dental composite because only a tiny area of the damaged teeth has to be removed before these restorations are attached to your teeth. Again, a small extraction from your tooth means a shorter stay in the dental office, making this procedure a preference for many dentists and dental patients. Compared to silver fillings, dental composite enables you to retain a significant portion of your natural tooth and overall appearance.

Dental Composite Hardens Fast

As mentioned earlier, dentists rely on blue light when layering composite holes that require filling. The light is used to cure or harden the composite before placing the next layer, only seconds. Unfortunately, other restorative materials can take days to dry and harden, meaning the treatment takes longer to complete. Nevertheless, matters are different with composite fillings because the material hardens fast. The chipped or decayed tooth will be restored to its original structure and functionality with only a single visit to your dentist.

Composite Material Bonds to the Weakened Tooth, Strengthening It

Decay or chipping, however minimal, can affect the strength and stability of your tooth. Nonetheless, when composite material is bonded to the weak tooth, it restores its strength and stability, enabling it to function normally. Although other restorative materials or fillings can strengthen your tooth, dental composite restores the original strength and stability. You will worry less about your chewing habits because the tooth causing you trouble while chewing will have regained its strength.

Composite fillings offer you several benefits which you should not miss out on if you have tooth decay, chipping, and cavities. Also, even when the restored tooth is damaged after treatment, it is not the end of the road for the restoration because it can always be repaired without replacement.

Disadvantages of Composite Fillings

Compared to other dental fillings like amalgam, dental composites are not durable. The restorative material wears out quickly, and the fact that it is prone to leaking makes it more susceptible to decay. Also, when you have larger cavities that require filling, dental composite will wear out faster than when used to fill smaller cavities.

When it comes to cost, composite fillings are more expensive because they are not covered by insurance companies, meaning whenever you need this restoration, you have to part with your money. Also, the treatment is 30 to 40 USD more expensive than silver fillings, which many patients are not willing to pay.

The multiple layers of composite to be applied means the process takes longer to complete than silver fillings. When going for in-lays and onlays treatment, you will need more than one appointment to satisfy the installation. This is long, considering that many patients are afraid of dental offices, and having them regularly pay visits to these offices is unpleasant. However, with dental amalgams, it only takes a short time to complete the procedure, and you will be on your way home.

Find an Experienced General Dentist Near Me

Caring for your tooth is a crucial step towards improved oral health. Nonetheless, all is not lost when you already have tooth cavities, minimal fractures, chipping, and decay because you can restore their functionality and appearance through dental fillings. At The Whittier Dentist, we recommend dental composite because of its durability, natural appearance, and functionality. Call us today at 562-632-1223 to schedule an appointment in Whittier, CA.