Serving Houston, Sugar Land, Pasadena & Nearby Areas Of Texas
Most people develop an occasional cavity over the course of their lives, even if they maintain good at-home oral hygiene practices and visit their dentist for regularly scheduled teeth cleanings. When this occurs, dental fillings are an effective way to restore teeth damaged by decay.
In order to deliver the highest quality results, Dr. Heather Fleschler has a mercury-free and metal-free dentistry practice. She uses tooth-colored fillings, ensuring you achieve beautiful, natural looking results that blend in seamlessly with your smile.
The best way to prevent tooth decay and the need for fillings is to visit us twice a year for your regularly scheduled dental checkups. Please call 713-660-6500 today to schedule an appointment at our Houston office.
What is the process of getting a composite filling?
When you come see us at Dr. Fleschler’s and we find decay in a tooth, the first step is to remove the decay. Next, we thoroughly clean and disinfect the area where the decay was removed. Dr. Fleschler then places the composite resin layer by layer. Every layer is hardened with the use of a curing light when using Empress Direct composite or sonic energy for SonicFill, and then the next layer is applied. She sculpts the resin to conform to the natural shape of the tooth. When satisfied with the appearance, the final layer is hardened, and the tooth is polished. Now your tooth is free of decay, healthy, and has an invisible restoration.
Benefits of Tooth-Colored Fillings
White fillings are made of a composite resin material that mimics the color of your natural teeth. They provide you with several advantages compared with metal amalgam fillings:
- Preserves more of your natural tooth structure
- Does not expand and contract with temperature changes, reducing the risk of tooth fracture down the road
- Bonded to your tooth, providing extra support
- Prevents additional tooth decay
- Matches the color of your natural tooth, blending in with your smile
How is the color of the composite resin for my filling determined?
Dr. Fleschler uses a shade guide for the two types of composite she uses for her tooth-colored fillings. For most of her fillings, she uses Empress Direct nano-hybrid composite. For larger restorations, she uses SonicFill, a sonic-activated composite. Both of these composite lines have their own shade guides. Dr. Fleschler matches the shade guide to the color of your adjacent teeth and the tooth receiving the filling. This ensures your tooth-colored filling will be virtually invisible when in your tooth.
Tooth-Colored Filling Options
Dr. Fleschler uses two different types of composites for tooth-colored filling restorations:
- Empress Direct – These fillings are made from a functional and aesthetic material, and they are effective when used with both front and back teeth. Dr. Fleschler can use a layering technique on front teeth to ensure beautiful results.
- SonicFill – These fillings use a sonic-activated composite material. Dr. Fleschler recommends this option for very large restorations.
If you have very large areas of decay which do not leave enough healthy tooth structure to support a tooth-colored filling, Dr. Fleschler may recommend porcelain inlays and onlays as a more effective option.
How do tooth-colored fillings compare with silver amalgam fillings?
Patients sometimes ask us why Dr. Fleschler doesn’t use silver amalgam for her fillings. We are a mercury-free/metal-free dentistry, and here’s some information about silver amalgam so that you can see why we no longer use it.
As the main filling material for almost 200 years, silver amalgam had quite a run. These fillings were long lasting and quite effective. People assume these fillings, because of their silver appearance, were made from, well, silver. Not so. Silver amalgam is made of a variety of metals, including traces of mercury. Most people no longer feel very good about placing mercury in their teeth. Plus, because amalgam is metal, it expands and contracts with hot and cold. Over time, this can create minute fractures in a tooth, weakening the tooth. This requires eventually replacing the filling as it begins to loosen and open the door for decay to form around the filling.
Composite resin fillings actually bond to the tooth surface. A tooth-colored filling pulls inward on the tooth, adding strength. Plus, when a dentist places a silver amalgam filling, he or she must remove more of the healthy tooth material to create room for the filling. Because composite resin bonds to the tooth, it is not necessary to remove the same amount of healthy tooth material. The most obvious advantage to tooth-colored fillings is just that — they are the same color as the tooth, so they are basically invisible.
How long does it take to get a composite filling?
Removing the decay and placing the filling is not a difficult process. It can take anywhere from as little as 20 minutes to about one hour for larger fillings.
Are there any food restrictions with tooth-colored fillings?
There are no restrictions with any type of filling. You can eat whatever you like. It is a good idea, for the overall health of your teeth and any fillings, to drop some of the bad habits that can damage your teeth. These include chewing ice, biting your fingernails, and using your teeth to do things like open bottles.
Will my dental insurance cover the placement of composite resin fillings?
Yes, dental insurance covers tooth-colored fillings just as it does silver amalgam. Fillings are deemed medically necessary, preventive care.
How long do tooth-colored fillings last?
Tooth-colored fillings can last up to 7-10 years with the proper care. Because they are made from a mixture of glass and plastic rather than metal, these fillings remain durable and can withstand tough chewing while keeping their teeth-colored look. Within 10-12 years, most patients often require replacement fillings to maintain their oral health.
How long should I wait before filling a cavity?
Once your dentist identifies a cavity, it’s typically recommended to get it filled within a year. However, there are multiple conditions that can affect the progression of your cavity, such as having soft enamel, dry mouth, diet, and age. In some cases, cavities can progress quickly within 3-6 months before reaching the nerve of your tooth, so if you can get your cavity filled sooner rather than later, your oral health will benefit!
What happens if you leave a cavity untreated?
If left untreated, the same bacteria that causes the cavity to form can quickly spread to other teeth, making them weak and brittle, leading to cracking, breaking, rotting, and complete tooth decay. This bacteria may also spread through your tooth’s enamel, affecting the inside of the tooth. In some cases, this can lead to infection and may require a root canal or extraction.
What things should I avoid after getting a filling?
To avoid any complications with your fillings, it’s important that patients pay attention to the foods they eat to preserve the health of their fillings. If you’ve just received a filling, it’s recommended to avoid eating and drinking the following for at least two to three weeks:
- Chewy foods such as jerky
- Sticky foods such as gum or caramel
- Hard foods such as raw fruits or vegetables
- Extremely hot foods and drinks such as soup or coffee
- Extremely cold foods and drinks such as ice cream or smoothies
In addition to avoiding harmful foods, establishing good oral care will help maintain your fillings, allowing them to last up to ten years. Ensure you are brushing and flossing daily to not only protect your fillings but also prevent the formation of additional cavities in the future.