Natural colored fillings that do not contain metal are becoming more popular due to their appearance, durability, and better level of safety than traditional metal fillings of the past. These more natural, tooth colored fillings are also known as cosmetic fillings and may have more function than just appearance when filling in cavities.
White fillings can be placed directly into the prepared tooth in the same way that traditional metal amalgam fillings are. Tooth colored fillings are a composite material typically made by a combination of acrylic resin and glass that is durable and effective and that looks and functions in a similar fashion as a natural tooth.
Benefits of Tooth Colored Composite Style Fillings
There are many benefits to choosing white fillings over traditional amalgam fillings that include:
Composite fillings are not nearly as noticeable as amalgam fillings. These white fillings are colored to closely resemble the color of the natural teeth so provide for a more attractive appearance, even when placed on the fronts of the teeth.
Tooth colored fillings are safer than the metal amalgam fillings. The older metal fillings often contain mercury, which can seep out of the filling and lead to health problems in some cases. White fillings are made from safe materials that do not affect health.
Amalgam fillings shrink and expand with changes in temperature which can create gaps between the tooth and filling, increasing the risk of further tooth decay. Composite fillings do not shrink and can actually bond with the tooth to prevent gaps and keep the tooth strong. White fillings are cured and hardened immediately in the office, further increasing the bond and proper fit.
White fillings provide more durability than amalgam fillings. Over time, the shrinking and expanding of metal fillings can cause them to crack or become loose and fall out. Composite fillings are less likely to crack over time and may last up to 10 years in many cases. Also, less tooth needs to be removed for dentists to use white fillings, resulting in a stronger tooth. Teeth filled with cosmetic fillings do not become sensitive to hear and cold as those that are treated with amalgam fillings.
The Procedure for White Fillings
The process for filling cavities with tooth colored fillings is the same as for metal fillings. However, less actual tooth needs to be removed, even with smaller cavities. The area may be numbed prior to any dental work. The dentist will remove the decayed part of the tooth with a special drill, air abrasion, or a laser. The area will then be cleaned to remove debris. The white filling is placed in layers and cured with a special light to promote hardening. Once complete, the filling will be polished to better match the natural teeth.