We offer composite fillings here at our Westwood dentist office because:

  • They’re more natural-looking
  • Patients feel safer with these types of fillings than silver amalgam
  • They’re durable (resistant to chipping and fracture) under normal circumstances

Placing a filling is one of the most common dental procedures in The United States. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have fillings every year to repair tooth decay, fix chips or cracked enamel, and resurface teeth after excessive wear. Years ago, silver amalgam fillings were the de facto choice for dentists, but times have changed. While the American Dental Association (ADA) has issued a statement about amalgam fillings concluding that they are safe for everyday use, most modern dental clinics use a variety of composite fillings instead.

However, composite fillings do come with a few drawbacks that should be fully considered before you make a final decision.

These types of filling are:

  • Often more expensive
  • Not always covered by dental insurance
  • More prone to breaking than metal fillings

In the end, the choice of what materials are used for your fillings comes down to you. While your dentist is there to help inform you and make suggestions, at Westwood Village Smiles we will always respect your wishes.

Do You Need a Composite Filling?

The reasons for requiring a composite filling are many but a few of the most common include:

  • Chipped teeth
  • Extra space between teeth
  • Cracked or broken teeth
  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth wear

What’s in a Composite Filling?

Unlike silver amalgam fillings (which may contain harmful mercury), there is no metal in a composite filling. These types of fillings are usually constructed from a mixture of plastics and glass or resin. They can be shaped to and polished to look more natural than a metal-based filling as well, making them ideal for restoration of visible teeth.

How are Composite Fillings Placed?

Composite fillings can usually be placed at our Westwood dental office within minutes. The process is a multi-stage procedure but generally, patients are in an out of the office within an hour.

  1. First, the dentist will prep the affected area by removing any decayed tooth matter (using a drill and/or pick along with water spray).
  2. If the damage being repaired is close to the nerve(s) inside the tooth, medication may be used to deaden sensitivity to minimize any pain the individual may experience.
  3. Next, the area will be prepped for the composite, which may entail the use of a chemical solution to enhance the composite’s ability to bond with existing tooth material.
  4. The composite filling is then placed in the affected area (usually via injection syringe) and is then shaped using a variety of dental tools.
  5. Most modern composites are cured using high-intensity lights.
  6. The hardened composite is then polished to a shine, restoring your tooth to its original shape and function.

The After Effects of Receiving a Composite Filling

Your comfort is always our primary concern at Westwood Village Smiles. We go out of our way to ensure your filling procedure is as painless as possible. We use a variety of pain medications (from traditional Novocain to sedation dentistry) to ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the entire process. However, there are some common side effects of having a composite filling placed that you should be aware of.

Numb Lips/Tongue

Novocain and other numbing agents can leave parts of your mouth feeling numb or swollen. That’s why patients are warned not to eat or drink immediately after having a composite filling placed—not because the filling is still soft. Indeed, unlike traditional metal fillings, most composite fillings are hard enough to chew on minutes after they’re placed.

Injection Site Pain

You will often receive Novocain prior to having damaged dental matter removed. Many patients report slight injection site pain or swelling for a day or two after the procedure. This is common and should go away on its own.

Temperature Sensitivity

It is normal to experience sensitivity to heat and cold after composite fillings are first placed. This heightened sensitivity should die down within a few days or week after your filling is placed. If it does not, contact Westwood Village Smiles for a consultation about the options available to you.

Bite Changes

The experienced dentists at our Westwood office will shape your composite filling as best they can during the placement process. However, because most patients are still “numb” from the Novocain, a certain amount of “guesswork” must be used during the sculpting and polishing process. If after the numbing agents have worn off you find significant changes to your bite pattern (certain teeth connecting before others) give us a call. We can reshape your new filling so it fits better within minutes and often without re-numbing your mouth.

Is there Any Danger from a Composite Filling?

Composite fillings are generally considered safer than traditional fillings. However, some of the chemicals used in dental resin are considered toxic. The amount of these toxic chemicals inside each composite filling is tiny and your risk of illness due to these compounds is minute. Additionally, advances in dental science have led to the creation of newer, safer composite filling materials than used in the past.

Have Questions about Composite Fillings?

If you have any questions about whether a composite filling is right for you, contact us any time. One of our helpful office staff will be able to explain everything to you or put you in touch with a dentist who can answer all of your questions.

Give us a call at (310) 254-9355 or schedule a consultation online.