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Man sitting on dentist's chair

If you’re like most people, when you have a dental filling placed, you’re thinking, “I hope this will last for life.” Unfortunately, this often isn’t the case. This is especially so for people who’ve received amalgam (metal) fillings in the past, which has led to the current trend of replacing them with composite fillings. As you read on, your dentist in Valparaiso explains how both types of fillings work and how to determine when it’s time to replace your old restoration.

How an Amalgam Filling Works

For the past 150 years in North America, amalgam fillings have been the standard for restoring teeth. Their popularity is based on their cost-effectiveness, their resistance to wear associated with chewing, and the fact that they can last up to 15 years.

The process starts with a dental professional capturing X-ray images of your teeth to identify where the decay is. Then, after numbing the treatment area, your dentist will drill a hole into the tooth to gain access to the decay. The area is then thoroughly cleaned and packed with a compound called gutta-percha, and the tooth is sealed.

One significant problem with this method, though, is that when metal begins to breakdown, toxins can be released into the mouth. Another challenge posed by these fillings is that they tend to require a significant amount of tooth structure to be removed.

The Composite Filling Alternative

Many dentists are encouraging patients to switch to composite fillings because of several reasons. For starters, as amalgam fillings begin to breakdown, there can be sharp pains from bacteria traveling beneath the gum line. Two other warning signs can be a feeling of increased pressure when you bite down and tooth sensitivity to temperature changes.

Here are some specific advantages of taking the composite filling route:

  • Aesthetics – Because composite fillings are tooth-colored, you don’t have to worry about having a glaring piece of metal in your mouth.
  • Durability – With proper care, which includes brushing and flossing twice daily, maintaining a structured diet and regular dental visits, composite fillings can sometimes last as long as their amalgam predecessors.
  • Better Oral Health – By creating a strong seal, composite fillings help to prevent any bacteria from seeping beneath the gum line to cause an infection.
  • Tooth Preservation – Unlike amalgam fillings, the composite alternative allows for the preservation of more of the tooth’s original structure.

The resin material is added directly to the tooth, shaped to fit perfectly into the smile line, and it’s then hardened with a special light to leave the tooth fully restored.

Want to Know More?

To learn more about how your tooth can be restored with composite resin material, reach out to your local dentist. A functional yet attractive smile awaits you!