While dental composite fillings are usually used to fill cavities and repair tooth decay, this dental restoration can also be used to repair minor tooth fractures and damaged tooth surfaces. Many patients may ignore tooth damage or decay if it is not painful; unfortunately this can lead to more complications. It is important to treat these dental issues as soon as you notice them to prevent problems such as infections and tooth abscesses.
Determining the Need for and Planning Your Composite Filling
In many cases, Dr. Mabry will determine the need for a dental filling during a routine cleaning appointment, before the patient even notices. Tooth decay is one of the most common dental health issues treated in our office. If a cavity is suspected, a special detecting liquid or dental probe can be used to be sure. In some cases, a dental x-ray may also be taken in order to determine the exact placement of the cavity as well as its size.
If Dr. Mabry determines that you need a new composite filling, you will be given the choice of having a composite filling in addition to other options. Dental composite is generally preferred by most patients, because it is naturally tooth-colored. It is also very durable and affordable, covered under many dental insurance plans. If you choose to have a composite filling placed, you will not need to schedule an additional visit; your tooth can be filled that day.
Filling the Tooth
Dr. Mabry will begin by numbing the area around your tooth so that you can remain as comfortable as possible during the procedure. If you are especially nervous or fearful, you may be offered the option of sedation dentistry. It is important to remember that if you choose sedation you will need to schedule a separate appointment and arrange for transportation after your appointment.
Once your mouth has been anesthetized, Dr. Mabry will prepare your tooth by removing any decayed and damaged tooth matter. The area will then be rinsed thoroughly and allowed to dry. The results in the removal of any harmful bacteria from the tooth before the cavity is filled. The tooth will then be isolated to ensure any saliva in the mouth will not interfere with the composite bonding process.
Next, your tooth will be coated with a special adhesive. The dental composite will be placed into the cavity and molded so that it blends in with your natural tooth. A special ultraviolet curing light will be used to quickly harden the composite filling. Dr. Mabry will then check the restoration for proper fit and remove any sharp edges. Finally, the filling will be polished so that it looks as natural as possible.
Caring for Your Composite Filling
After your filling has been placed, Dr. Mabry will advise you of the special care procedures you will need to follow for a few days. Initially, you may be asked to avoid flossing or brushing that area, or to brush gently to avoid loosening the filling. Once this recovery period has passed, however, it is important that you return to normal oral hygiene procedures. Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush approved by the American Dental Association and use a fluoride toothpaste. You will also need to return for regular cleanings so that Dr. Mabry can check your restoration for loosening or damage.
If you are especially cavity-prone, Dr. Mabry may request that you schedule more frequent visits so that he can prevent further tooth decay. You may also be given special fluoride rinses to protect your teeth from damage. You will also be asked to limit snacking between meals and limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks whenever possible in order to protect your dental health.
When cared for properly, a dental composite filling can last for 10 years. However, if you notice any damage or if your filling becomes loose, you should contact Dr. Mabry as soon as possible so your filling can be repaired or replaced. Fillings that are loose or damaged leave your tooth vulnerable to further tooth decay or dental infection. Repairing the damage as soon as possible helps you avoid future dental problems.
If you know or suspect that you have a cavity and would like to know if you are eligible for a composite filling, or if you are interested in learning about any of the other dental treatments and restorations that we offer, contact our office today for a consultation. Our staff looks forward to answering your questions, and helping to restore your smile to a natural, beautiful brilliance once more.