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Why Tooth-Colored Fillings Are Best

Young man smiling at dental office

A recent study showed that over 90 percent of Americans over age 20 have had a cavity at some point in their lives. The majority of cavities are treated with fillings. Once upon a time, a filling meant putting in a piece of metal to seal off your tooth. Now, there is a new option: tooth-colored fillings.

This guide to tooth-colored fillings will tell you everything you need to know about resin fillings, and why they are an improvement over the older metal type. 

What’s in a Tooth-Colored Filling?

Since the 1830s, dentists have had the option to use metal for tooth fillings. The mixture, often called an amalgam filling because it’s a mix of metals, usually includes mercury, silver, tin, and copper.

3D rendering of teeth with different dental fillings.
3d render of teeth with gold, amalgam and composite inlay dental filling over white background

This style of filling started losing popularity in the 1990s when a new type of filling arrived: resin. These new resin fillings are made of tiny particles of glass and bio-compatible plastics. 

Dr. Moulton can customize the color for resin fillings to exactly match your tooth color using water. All of the components of a tooth-colored filling are body-safe.

Most new fillings are done with tooth-colored fillings, but metal amalgam fillings are still FDA approved. However, there are risks and problems associated with metal fillings that resin fillings don’t have. 

Health Benefits of Tooth-Colored Fillings

The biggest health risk for amalgam fillings is mercury. Over time, the mercury in the filling will vaporize. Your body can absorb these vapors and breath them in through your mouth. If you absorb enough, it can harm your organs, especially the kidneys and the brain. 

Aside from the mercury, amalgam fillings can also crack your teeth accidentally. Extreme temperatures can make the metal expand or contract. Cold foods might shrink the filling a tiny amount, but hot foods will make it expand slightly. 

Gradually, this back and forth puts pressure on your tooth. This pressure can lead to cracks or breaks. Once that happens, a filling won’t work anymore and you’ll have to get a crown or implant in its place. 

Finally, amalgam fillings are difficult to fit sometimes. Often, the dentist will need to shape the tooth to the filling, not the other way around. This can lead to losing some of your healthy tooth enamel, and not just the decaying portion. 

One of the best things about tooth-colored fillings is that none of these issues happen with them. The material isn’t a health risk for your body and you won’t inhale anything harmful. 

The resin also won’t change shape; once it dries in your tooth, that’s the shape that it will stay in. Dr. Moulton won’t even need to remove any of your healthy tooth enamel to fit it in. He can fit the resin into the space left after he takes out the decay. A better fit means a longer-lasting filling and a better seal. 

Aesthetic Benefits of Tooth-Colored Fillings

Even if a metal filling isn’t causing a patient any physical harm, they may want to replace it anyway. While metal fillings are more common on back teeth like molars, the dark silver color is still visible when you talk or laugh. This might bother some patients.

Aside from the numerous health benefits of tooth-colored fillings, they also have aesthetic benefits. Unlike metal fillings, tooth-colored fillings will blend in seamlessly with the rest of your teeth. 

Dr. Moulton can customize a resin filling to match the exact color of your teeth. Right in the office, Dr. Moulton can mix the resin composite with water until it matches your natural teeth. By the time you’re done, you won’t know you have a filling just by looking!

The fillings will be invisible, whether they are in the front or back of your mouth. You can talk, laugh, and eat all without anyone ever noticing your fillings. 

What to Expect at Your Appointment

When you get tooth-colored fillings or other restorative dentistry, knowing what to expect from the appointment can help it go smoothly. Most importantly, know that your dental team is working hard to make sure you have a good experience.

If you’re getting an amalgam filling replaced with a tooth-colored filling, then the first step will be for Dr. Moulton to remove the old filling. Your dentist will use a local anesthetic to minimize your discomfort. 

Once the old filling is out, Dr. Moulton will prepare your tooth for the new filling. If this is a first-time filling, this is where your Dr. Moulton will start. He’ll remove any tooth decay and fill the cavity with the tooth-colored filling resin.

The whole process should only need one visit, especially if it is only one filling. For patients who may need multiple fillings or multiple replacements, then Dr. Moulton might recommend multiple visits. Your personal tolerance for dental work will be a factor in the decision.

Once all of your fillings are in place, they should last for at least ten years. Proper dental hygiene, including twice-daily brushing and flossing, and regular dental check-ups, will help extend the life of your fillings. 

Get Tooth-Colored Fillings at Lexington Family Smiles

If you think you might need tooth-colored fillings, we can help! Request an appointment at Lexington Family Smiles today. Our team will gladly help you find the right dental solutions for you and your entire family. 

Whether you’re interested in replacing old fillings, or think it’s time for a first filling, we’ll make sure to keep you smiling for years to come!