White composite fillings are the modern way at filling cavities in teeth. Cavities (also known as caries) occur when plaque builds up on our teeth and starts to cause tooth decay. Over time the plaque will eat away at the tooth and will cause small pockets of holes. This can further lead to complications as the decay can start to eat away at the pulp (center of the tooth, where the nerve is) of the tooth and this can then start to cause severe tooth ache. In these severe instances, a root canal may be required to save the tooth (clearing out the decay).
We always strive to save our patients natural teeth as they will always be the best set that you will ever get. Modern advances in dentistry does mean replacement teeth are very good at acting like natural teeth, but they will always be considered as a foreign body. We only extract teeth as a last resort.
How Do White Fillings Work?
By filling up the cavity with a white filling, we will be stopping bacteria from getting into the tooth and causing any further harm. Initial cavities will be hard to spot by a patient as they may not cause any pain. Sensitivity can often be noticed, but it can still be hard for a patient to pinpoint the root cause. This is why we recommend regular visits to your dentist so we can spot the early signs of tooth decay and prevent any further issues from arising.
What To Expect During The Filling Procedure
- We may use a local anaesthesia to numb the area surrounding the tooth before we place the filling
- The dentist will then remove tooth decay from the afflicted tooth’s enamel using professional tools, preparing the space for your new filling
- if you are having a bonded filling we will etch the tooth with a gel before placing your filling
- Depending on the type of filling, your dentist may apply a resin application which will harden under a bright light, making your new filling strong
- The final step will be for your dentist to polish your filling
Each filling treatment will vary in length depending on which tooth requires the treatment and also the size of the cavity that needs filling. Your dentist/dental team will advise you how long the appointment is expected to be when booking in.
Why Choose Composite Over Amalgam Fillings?
Traditionally silver amalgam fillings were the most commonly used materials when filling a cavity, whereas now, composites are being more widely used. For larger surface area fillings, amalgam were the preferential choice as they were much stronger and longer lasting than their composite counterparts – however, composites have come on in leaps and bounds over the years making them stronger.
One of the biggest risks that a filling can face is when they are exposed to excessive forces. This is quite often the cases in patients who are heavy clenchers or grind their teeth regularly. The larger the filling, the bigger the surface area that will be exposed to these forces and will have a higher chance of fracturing (please ask us about our bruxism treatments).
With the above in mind, if you do damage your filling, amalgam fillings will not fuse with the new filling and it will always be best to completely replace it. Every time you take out a filling it does make the hole even bigger and it can get to a point that a different type of restoration may be required to repair the tooth. Composite fillings are a different story as the new composite material used can easily create a bond with the tooth and existing filling.
We are seeing more and more patients opt to have composite fillings over amalgam. With composites they can be made to match your natural tooth colour, making it a very discrete option. With amalgam fillings they give a dark tint on the tooth which is noticeable and does become even more pronounced as the filling ages.
The biggest controversial area concerning amalgam fillings is that it does contain the component mercury. There hasn’t been any conclusive evidence or dental research to say the long term negative effects of having these types of fillings, but we are seeing more and more patients who prefer composites for this reason.
Amalgam fillings make a good thermal conductor because they are made from metal, and for this reason, it is not uncommon for patients to experience thermal sensitivity when exposed to hot or cold substances. Composites are made from a plastic material and are very poor thermal conductors meaning this is less experienced when having these types of fillings.
When amalgam fillings are placed, they require several hours to harden before they can really be used (eating etc). As soon as you have a composite filling placed, the hardening process is completed at the same time and you can continue your daily life as normal.
As you can see there are a lot of points for both composite and amalgam type of fillings. If you are not sure which option will best suit your needs, please do not hesitate to ask a member of the dental team or your treating dentist.
How Can I prevent Cavities?
Cavities are closely linked with having a poor oral hygiene habit and also to the foods and drinks we eat on a regular basis. Sugary sweets and drinks are some of the worst culprits of tooth decay. When we eat or drink them, they leave a sugary film over our teeth which produces an acid that actively eats away at our teeth. If you do have a sugar fix, we recommend to rinse your mouth out with water to take the sugar off your teeth, or even better, to brush your teeth there and then.
Over time our teeth will naturally come into contact with bacteria and acid which will attack our teeth, but our lifestyle choices can determine how quick this occurs.
Book Your Check Up Today
If you haven't been to your dentist for a while, please do not hesitate to call us and book your dental check up. We are accepting new NHS patients and can also see you on a private basis. For any questions, our friendly team will be more than welcome to help.