Cavities occur in over 90% of adults, and if you have one, our dentist will recommend a composite restoration (also known as a synthetic or white resin). We always recommend that our patients have their cavity worked on before it progresses into something more serious. Prompt treatment can help lower your risk of infection too.
Why We Prefer Composite Fillings at our Langley Office
Initially, studies showed that the average lifespan of a composite was around 7 years. However, a review of multiple studies show that:
Proper care can extend the lifespan of the filling to 10 years
People at higher risks of cavities may need filling replacement sooner
Even if composite has a shorter lifespan than competing materials, they offer many benefits that make them one of our top services at Lighthouse Dental Centre.
White Composite Filling Benefits
The dentist is likely to recommend composite fillings because the material is:
Despite synthetic resin materials costing more than metal alloys, the natural look and resistance make it a top choice at our office. You also can have your cavities repaired in one visit to our office rather than multiple visits, which is a major perk for anyone with a busy schedule.
Composite can also be used to cover the screw access hole for a dental implant.
Understanding the Dental Composite Procedure
For most of our patients following a dental exam, we're able to have you in our Langley office for a single visit to have the filling placed. However, there are times when a patient's tooth has severe decay from bacterial flora leading to a dental emergency, and we may require two visits to place the restoration properly.
The standard process for placing a synthetic resin are:
We start by determining what shade of resin is necessary for your teeth. The shading is important because it allows you to leave our office with a natural, beautiful smile. We like to compare the shade before drying the mouth because it offers the most natural look possible for cosmetic dentistry.
Once we've spent time matching the tooth coloring, we'll use a local anesthesia to numb the tooth and surrounding area. The numbing agent may take some time to take effect, but we'll check with you to ensure that your mouth is sufficiently numb before we begin.
The dentist will remove the tooth decay by drilling into your tooth's enamel and remove the decay. During this time, we'll clean and dry the area where we're placing the restoration to prepare the tooth properly. Depending on the damage to the tooth, we may need to shave the tooth so that the restoration can be set appropriately.
The next step includes etching the tooth and bonding it.
Synthetic resin is then layered into the hole in your tooth. We'll use light that speeds up the curing process to ensure that the filling is adequately set. Since this requires a layering process, we'll need to cure each layer. It's a delicate process, but it allows for the strongest restoration possible.
Once it's placed and is cured, we'll examine the mouth and shape the repaired area. There may be some excess filling that we'll need to file down, and the dentist will spend time contouring the tooth for you.
We'll then check your bite to make sure your teeth line up and eating will feel natural.
Once we're confident with the bite, we'll polish the tooth.
Composite fillings are straightforward to place, so you can be confident that your tooth is fully functional when you leave our office.
Time to Heal After a Composite Restoration With Us
Your composite will heal rapidly. However, when you leave our office, you'll still feel the numbing from the anesthetic, which will take some time to wear off. Once it does wear off, you may experience tooth sensitivity. Sensitivity is completely natural since we've drilled into your tooth. The good news is that your tooth sensitivity will go away in a day or two. For some people, there's a chance that they'll be more sensitive to cold for a few days or weeks, but this will fade away in time.
What You Can Do for Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity is never fun, but it's an issue that is common with dental procedures. A few of the many things that you can do to reduce sensitivity:
Avoid consuming acidic foods
Avoid foods or drinks that are too cold or hot
On the first day of the procedure and even the day after, avoid brushing or flossing around the tooth
If the tooth is still sensitive, be gentle when brushing or flossing
If you still experience sensitivity, you can opt to take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID. Long-lasting pain is not typical, so you'll want to contact us if you feel sensitivity or pain that lasts longer than a day or two.
You may want to call us if your bite feels off. A little composite filling may wear off in the first few days that make your bite feel more comfortable. If the wearing down doesn't occur, we can adjust the surface of composite fillings and improve the bite. Don't worry: it's a simple, painless process to adjust the surface.
Signs That You May Need a Tooth Filling From Us
Regular dental checkups are the fundamental way that most people first find out about their cavities. However, if you haven't been to the dentist often, you may not know that you have tooth decay or a cavity or which of our services you could benefit from.
Ideally, you'll learn of the cavity early on in the decaying process so that the least invasive process can be used to treat the cavity vs a dental surgery. If you're not sure if you have a cavity and you have a while before you come into our Langley office for an exam, these warning signs are a good indicator that you may have a cavity that needs to be filled:
Your tooth has an ongoing ache
You feel a pit or hole in the tooth
When you drink hot or cold foods, your teeth are sensitive
The tooth is darker in color or staining
Sugary foods cause sensitivity
Cavities that come on slowly may be undetectable until you come into our office because they may not cause any pain at all. In all cases, a cavity won't go away on its own. You'll need to have the dentist or hygienist examine your teeth, take X-rays and determine if you have a cavity or more serious dental concern.
Dentistry 101 - Why Do Teeth Get Cavities?
Wondering why your teeth get cavities? Look no further than the foods you eat and your dental hygiene. Your mouth is filled with bacteria that are either good or bad for your dental health. The harmful bacteria lead to:
Rapid tooth decay
Acid production increases among the bacteria when you eat or digest sugar. The bacteria will feed on the sugar that you eat and then cause plaque to form on your teeth. Plaque leads to the surface of the teeth being covered in a clear, sticky film.
If you skip brushing your teeth, the plaque remains. Plaque will cause your mouth to become even more acidic, which leads to cavities forming. Traditionally, your mouth will keep the acidity level at 7 so that it's neutral and won't cause harm. As more acid builds up, the pH level will fall to 5.5 or less.
What happens at these low pH levels? First, tooth enamel begins to dissolve and be destroyed. Eventually, if left untreated, the mineral loss and destruction to the enamel leads to erosion of the tooth.
Small holes in the tooth form, and these holes are cavities. Cavities can eventually become larger and larger causing you to lose minerals below the tooth's enamel.
Saliva plays a major role in the entire tooth decay process. Your saliva is filled with minerals, such as phosphate and calcium. When you brush your teeth and the saliva washes over the teeth, it helps to add lost minerals back into the tooth to reverse the demineralization process.
Even with the help of your saliva and brushing, a cavity can progress to the deeper layers of your tooth. In severe cases, you'll experience pain and possible tooth loss.
Cavity prevention is essential, and it all begins with a proper dental hygiene routine. You should brush twice per day and floss at least once. Each brushing should last for two minutes with about 30 seconds dedicated to each quadrant in the mouth.
Whether working on baby teeth or permanent teeth, composite fillings can help prevent the cavity from causing more damage and help save the tooth.
If infection sets in or the tooth decays severely, this can lead to us recommending a tooth extraction. We'll do everything that we can to avoid an extraction because your natural teeth are always better than dentures or implants.
We recommend repairing any cavities you have, developing a good oral hygiene routine and eating less sugar to prevent cavity formation and/or progression.
Our dentist may recommend multiple types of restorations.
5 Types of Dental Fillings in Dentistry
Some patients find that tooth composite fillings aren’t the right solution for them. Others want to weigh all of their options and consider filling alternatives. The best solution is to prevent tooth decay in the first place, but if you’re already past that stage, there are some advancements in the dental field that give you more options for treating cavities.
Amalgam Fillings - Metal Alloys
For many years, dentists in North America including Langley preferred amalgam during restorative appointments. These metal alloys were durable and could last for 15 years, if you maintained proper oral hygiene. In many parts of the world, amalgams are still widely used. With metal alloys dentists don't need to:
Thoroughly clean the tooth being filled
Continually dry the tooth during the procedure
When a patient is on a strict budget, metal alloys offers a low-cost restoration. So, with all of these benefits, why don't dentists recommend amalgam fillings any longer? They don't look real. Maintaining a great, natural smile demands a white filling.
Amalgam fillings don't match the color of your tooth, so when you smile widely, people may notice the silver in your mouth. The materials used to make amalgam include:
Also mercury is toxic, but the ADA states that these alloys are viable but more research is necessary to uncover if these mercury fillings cause adverse side effects.
Ceramic is another long-lasting filling type that can last up to 15 years with proper care. Porcelain is incorporated into the filling material to offer a natural, white color that blends naturally with your teeth. Ceramics are a good option for many patients, but there's a reason that they're not that common:
Most ceramics require a two-step installation process
Ceramics are more expensive than many other restorative options
While ceramics are a long-lasting option, we often recommend the next filling type to our patients.
Our team often recommends that patients use white fillings. These synthetic resins are customized, using various materials, to match the color and shade of your teeth. When someone looks at your smile or even at your teeth, these tooth colored fillings are almost unrecognizable. The materials used in composite fillings are:
If you need a tooth repair, synthetic resin material is often the best option.
Glass ionomer fillings are made from, you guessed it: glass. These restorations are made to match your tooth color, so they look natural. Our dentist can shade the glass to mimic the natural color of your teeth as best as possible. When compared to amalgam, glass is superior because they're less noticeable.
The glass material slowly releases fluoride to help protect your teeth over the long-term. However, the main concern is that glass won't last as long as other options. Plus, when you need a larger cavity filled, glass ionomers are not as efficient.
If a patient doesn't mind spending more money on their mouth, they may opt for gold. The benefit of gold is that the fillings can last for 20 or more years. You won't need to have the fillings replaced or be concerned about damage for a long time.
You'll need to come into our office for two sessions, in most cases, if you prefer gold fillings over the other types listed previously.
However, there are issues with gold fillings:
Lab resources are intensive
The installation technique is very precise
While gold restorations may be long-lasting, they're being used less because other materials offer a better option.
Cavities can affect everyone, including toddlers. Understanding the causes of cavities and how to prevent them can help you avoid them – and fillings – in the first place. But if you do develop cavities, composite fillings or another type of filling can help restore your smile and prevent the decay from getting worse.