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|Dental Composite Fillings|
Re-surface and re-shape your teeth with non-invasive tooth bonding
We are all familiar with the standard silver fillings, also know as Amalgam, that dentists have used for many years to fill holes and repair our teeth. Not only do these metallic fillings look unsightly, they expand and contract in response to heat and cold, thereby allowing decay to take hold beneath the filling.
In the more distant past, dental cavities have been filled with all sorts of materials including stones, turpentine resin, gum and a variety of metals. Thanks to advances in technology and the availability of new materials, the familiar silver fillings can be replaced with metal-free composite fillings. Dental composite is a mouldable material made from acrylic resins that has greater stability than mercury amalgam. This white filling offers a tighter seal and restores teeth to their full strength while maintaining a natural colour and appearance.
What can composite fillings do for your smile?
Dental composite is the material used for tooth bonding, a technique similar to a filling but more extensive. It involves bonding dental composite to a tooth to change its size or shape as well as to repair damage. Bonding, therefore, offers more in the way of cosmetic applications than just ‘white’ fillings. For example, it can be used for gap filling, closing the openings between spaced out teeth; it can re-shape chipped or misshapen teeth; and when performed across a number of teeth it can be used to straighten crooked teeth and create the perfect smile.
As one patient commented, “I needed a number of fillings, and some of them were so large there would hardly be any tooth left visible! Instead of getting a mouth full of unsightly metal I decided to use it as an opportunity to make a significant improvement to my teeth and get them bonded with white ‘filling’. The result is terrific, and I haven’t stopped smiling since.”
Composite fillings are available in a wide range of shades and translucencies, enabling a close match to your natural teeth and a much improved aesthetic appearance compared to the silver amalgam fillings. However, if you have large cavities in your teeth, bonding may not be suitable as the composite loses strength over large areas. It also has a greater tendency to stain than your surrounding natural teeth or porcelain crowns. Your suitability for dental composite fillings, tooth bonding and gap filling can be discussed during a consultation with your dentist.
The tooth bonding process
The bonding process is relatively painless in most cases and not all bonding procedures need a local anaesthetic, but some may require an anaesthetic injected into the gum around the tooth being treated while preparing the cavity. The tooth that is receiving the composite will be thoroughly cleaned and kept dry (typically by isolating it with cotton or latex). The tooth will then be shaped as necessary and etched with an acid based gel to create a suitable surface for the composite to stick to. The composite will then be put on the tooth. A special light will then be applied to make the composite harden and set. By building up the composite using a number of thin layers then polishing it into the desired shape and texture, the ‘new’ tooth can be styled to blend in perfectly with your existing teeth.
“In the past, when I smiled or laughed I was always aware of my metal fillings being on display,” said one man in his 30s. “Since having them all replaced with natural-looking composites, I look so much better and feel more confident and at ease in other people’s company.”
Traditionally, amalgam fillings were known to generally last longer than their composite counterparts. However, due to advances in dental technology, composite fillings are no certainly on par and even exceeds amalgam fillings in it’s lifespan, strength and durability. As with all cosmetic dentistry, to ensure an outcome that is as successful as possible, it is essential to follow the advice of your dentist following the procedure.
Any dentist can carry out tooth bonding, however, because it requires a high level of skill some dentists excel at the procedure more than others. It is wise, therefore, to seek out cosmetic dentists that have undertaken specialist training in dental bonding and have plenty of practical experience in the field. Depending on the expertise of the dentist, composite fillings start at around £80 per tooth. If you are thinking of taking advantage of natural looking composite fillings, you can discuss all of the issues mentioned here in greater depth during a consultation with your dentist.
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