Composite fillings: What to expect

No matter how good a patient is at brushing, flossing and coming in for regular cleanings, cavities are sometimes just a fact of life. Although a fairly minor dental problem, if left untreated, the decay will eventually cause extensive damage to the tooth, and potentially cause the root to be infected.  In fact, composite fillings to treat decay are one of the most common dental procedures done at our Edmonton dental office. So whether you’re one of the lucky patients who has never had a cavity, or whether you’ve had a tonne of fillings, read on to learn more about what actually happens during a cavity filling.

Generally speaking, the earlier a cavity is caught, the less invasive the procedure will be. So if you know you have a cavity, it’s best to go in to get it filled as soon as possible. Removing the decay and applying the composite filling can usually be done within a half hour visit.

First of all, your dentist will apply a numbing cream to the gums surrounding the affected tooth. A local anesthetic will then be injected into the area to completely numb the tooth. Once the tooth is completely numb, the dentist will use a drill or laser to remove the decay. You shouldn’t feel any pain during this treatment, just a bit of pressure or vibrations from the drill. Once removed, the composite filling will  be applied to the tooth. . The filling is applied in layers and hardened with a special light. The final layers are shaped and polished to ensure that the tooth is smooth and functional.

Composite (plastic resin) is the modern filling material of choice in most cases. We consider it superior to the silver amalgam fillings commonly used in the past. Silver amalgam fillings contain small amounts of mercury, while composite fillings are completely free of mercury. Composite fillings are also less likely to result in sensitivity to heat or cold, since the material does not expand or contract as much as silver amalgam. And since the composite material closely matches the colour of the tooth, fillings are nearly invisible.

If you think you might have a cavity, or if you are overdue for a cleaning and a checkup, give us a call today!