Dental composite is a tooth-colored material that is a mixture of plastic and glass. Composite fillings are used to fix small- to medium-sized cavities on baby and adult teeth. They represent esthetic restorative materials that come in different shades and can blend very well with the tooth if the proper shade is selected.
The Tooth-Colored (Composite) Filling Procedure
Before a composite filling is placed, the dentist will clean the cavity by removing soft decayed tooth structure. If the cavity is small, you may not need any numbing medicine during decay removal and filling placement. However, if the cavity is large, the dentist will numb the area prior to working on the tooth to ensure that your child does not experience any discomfort or pain during their appointment.
Next, the mouth will be properly isolated. Just like sealants, composite fillings are very sensitive to moisture. Therefore, the mouth must be kept dry with special paper stickers and cotton rolls during composite filling placement. Once the tooth is decay free and the mouth is properly isolated, the tooth will be treated with special cleaning and bonding agents. After that, the composite filling material will be placed and hardened with a special blue light. Finally, your brand new filling will be anatomically shaped, polished, and checked for proper fit and bite.
What Precautions Should I Take after My White Filling Placement?
If no numbing medicine was used during composite filling treatment, no special precautions are necessary and your child can eat and drink right away. If, however, the numbing medicine was used, this makes the lip, cheek and tongue numb on the side of the face where the filling was placed.
Children who have not experienced this feeling before may scratch, suck, or chew on the numb lip, cheek, or tongue, which can later cause uncomfortable swelling or bruising. To prevent this, we ask that you watch your child closely and do not give them anything hard to eat that requires chewing for 2 hours after treatment.
After the placement of dental fillings, some sensitivity may linger for a brief period. This should gradually subside. If it lasts for more than a few days, give us a call.
Caring for Your Composite Filling
The same rules that apply to taking care of your teeth also apply to composite fillings. In order to increase the longevity of your fillings, it is vital to keep up good oral hygiene at home with daily thorough brushing and flossing. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day will help protect the longevity of all dentistry. If oral hygiene is neglected or abandoned, you may end up with new cavities around your current composite fillings.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
The longevity of a white composite filling depends on several different factors like the size of the cavity, the type of composite material used, the technique used during filling placement, and the level of oral hygiene of the patient. If all of the above requirements are met, composite fillings in baby teeth should last for the lifetime of the baby tooth.
Studies performed with older composite materials on permanent teeth indicate that those fillings can last between five and seven years, on average. Conclusions from those studies are not very applicable to the state-of-the-art composite materials that we use in the office today, however! With advances in technology, composite fillings continue to get better. The duration of composite fillings will only increase in the future.
Contact Us to Schedule a Dental Exam
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