Most people have one problem in common regarding their dental hygiene— cavities or dental caries. Cavities are holes that develop in a tooth due to tooth decay. If left untreated, cavities can spread to the tooth pulp, causing intense pain that interferes with your daily living and tooth loss which may impact your appearance, confidence, and self-esteem. Untreated cavities can also result in the need for more invasive procedures like extractions or root canals.

There are various treatments for cavities, one of which is dental fillings. Dental fillings help protect the root and the entire tooth from further damage, reduce the possibility of severe infection, and relieve the pain caused by cavities. However, you need to undergo the fillings placement procedure with an expert dentist.

At Beach Dental Care Anaheim, we have helped many patients successfully treat cavities with dental fillings, and we can do the same for you. Our dental procedures are quick, effective, and comfortable, thanks to our advanced technology and expert dental professionals. We will explain everything you can expect and how extensive the procedure will be before we can start treatment. If you are looking for dental fillings services in Anaheim, please do not hesitate to contact us. Dental fillings come in various types, and here we focus on composite fillings.

Composite Fillings Overview

A composite filling is used in dentistry to repair damaged teeth, primarily due to decay. The dentist removes the decayed/affected part of the tooth and then fills the hole with a composite filling.

There are several forms of dental fillings, each with distinct disadvantages and advantages, although composite (alternatively called composite resin) and amalgam fillings are the most prevalently used. Amalgam material was the most broadly used for several years, although the popularity of composite fillings has been growing due to their durability and appearance.

Composite fillings appear more natural than other dental fillings. A dental professional can customize the composite material to match your teeth's shade, making them virtually unnoticeable to anybody looking at your teeth. For this reason, they are more esthetically suited for use on front teeth or more visible areas of the mouth. 

Composite material is a combination of acrylic (plastic) resin that is reinforced with powdered glass. It is helpful for dental restorations, such as crowns, inlays, and veneers. Apart from treating cavities, dentists sometimes use composite fillings to correct chipped, broken, cracked, fractured, and worn-out teeth and to close the space between two teeth.

Like most dental restoration types, composite fillings are not permanent, meaning you may need to replace them someday. They are highly durable and can last several years, giving you a beautiful, long-lasting smile.

Composite Filling Procedure

The procedure for placing composite fillings is relatively straightforward and can be completed in one dental visit unless there are special circumstances.

  1. Your dental professional can begin by choosing the composite shade to use in your fillings at the start of your dental visit. It is recommended that this match is made earlier before your mouth and teeth dry out, which might impact the teeth's brightness.
  2. The dentist will administer a numbing gel to numb your gum, and once the gum is numb, they will inject local anesthesia to numb the tooth and the neighboring area. If the dentist is experienced, this should not hurt. You might experience a brief sting or pinch while the anesthetic starts to numb the gum, jaw area, and tooth.
  3. The dental professional will then drill into your enamel and extract the part of the tooth that is decayed. Most patients find the drilling sound the most unpleasant part of the procedure. Listening to audiobooks, podcasts, or music with headphones may assist in masking the sound and reducing stress.
  4. They will clean, then dry the place and prepare the tooth. If the damage is extensive, preparing the tooth may entail tooth shaving (enameloplasty or odontoplasty). And if the decay is close to the tooth nerve, the dentist will apply a special medication for additional protection.
  5. The dental professional will then etch the tooth and bond it.
  6. They will start layering the composite filling into the hole in the tooth (deep fillings located near the pulp might need that the dentist lays in a liner first to protect the nerve). The dentist will use ultraviolet light to cure the filling in place. A composite filling is applied in layers. The layers gradually build up to fill the hole created in your tooth because of cavities and tooth decay, and the dentist will use ultraviolet light to cure every layer before proceeding to the next. Ultraviolet light hardens every layer quickly so the next layer can be placed. This process is called photo-polymerization. The filling will look natural and effectively restore tooth function.
  7. The dental professional will then contour and shape the tooth before polishing it.
  8. After polishing, they assess your bite to ensure you are content and comfortable with the dental restoration.

A composite filling will not look so different from your natural tooth if installed correctly. From the beginning of the procedure to the end, small fillings usually take twenty to thirty minutes to complete. Multiple or deeper cavities take an extended period to fill.

Does the Composite Filling Procedure Hurt?

It is not unusual to be afraid about having a tooth cavity filled. Composite fillings, like other dental fillings, may hurt in certain instances. However, in most cases, no to little discomfort is felt during the filling procedure. Whether or not you will experience pain depends on how extensive the filling procedure will be, and whether or not the process will be extensive is determined by various factors, including:

Number of Dental Cavities

If you have multiple cavities in one area, your dental professional may suggest filling them all simultaneously. This may cause further discomfort because the procedure will take longer. During the filling procedure, your mouth will have to remain open for an extended period, which may cause gagging or jaw pain. You might also need additional anesthesia for the lengthy procedure.

The Cavity Location

Dental cavities are classified into three types:

  • Root cavities that occur near the tooth root.
  • Pits and fissures dental cavities that develop on the molars' biting surfaces.
  • Smooth surface dental cavities that appear on the sides of the mouth.

A minor root cavity is usually easy to fill with a local anesthetic, and most root cavities can easily be treated if they are detected early. Tooth roots contain a soft matter called cementum, so they can decay more quickly. An exposed tooth root due to receding gums could also decay more quickly since tooth roots are generally not as strong as the enamel.

Root cavities most prevalently arise if a person has gum (periodontal) disease. Gum disease leads to gum recession, exposing the tooth's soft root surface.

The Depth and Size of the Tooth Cavity

Tooth decay is progressive. Usually, it starts as white spots occurring due to small quantities of mineral loss in the enamel. You could prevent tooth decay by undergoing fluoride treatment or practicing proper oral hygiene.

However, if the enamel continues weakening, you might develop a tooth cavity that needs a filling. Small dental cavities discovered early enough are the quickest and easiest to fix. If your tooth cavity is not deep, you may experience minimal discomfort.

Just note that topical numbing gel does not numb tooth tissues. They only numb gums, so the needle does not cause discomfort or pain during the anesthetic injection. Some patients have trypanophobia and fear being injected more than they fear any other part of the composite filling procedure. However, others simply do not like the numbness left in the tongue and cheek after the dentist fills the tooth cavity.

For some cases, numbing gel applied topically is sufficient to prevent discomfort entirely on the gums. Otherwise, the dental professional can stop drilling and inject you with an anesthetic if you begin feeling pain.

Deep dental cavities need the extraction of a lot of decay, and filling takes longer. Also, deep dental cavities are located closer to the tooth's nerve endings. These cavities can cause a lot of pain when they are being filled.

Unless you can tolerate so much pain, your dental professional will likely suggest an anesthetic injection for deeper dental cavities.

Will It Hurt After the Composite Filling Procedure

Your tooth might feel sensitive or uncomfortable for one or two days after the process. It is normal to feel mild discomfort, which should be temporary— it will disappear once your tooth acclimatizes to the newly-placed filling. Your dentist will give you care instructions at the end of your treatment. Routines dental visits, good eating habits, and proper dental hygiene practices will help in the life of your fillings.

Inform your dental professional immediately if you feel considerable pain or experience pus or swelling. This may be a sign of infection or an indication that you need to undergo additional treatment, like the tooth canal procedure.

Mild pain or sensitivity may worsen if you drink or eat something very cold or hot. Breathing in cold air might also make the tooth feel tingly or uncomfortable. Your gums might also feel tender or raw for some days, particularly when flossing or brushing your teeth.

Composite Fillings Durability

Composite fillings are durable, but their lifespan is shorter when compared to amalgam fillings. Generally, composite fillings have a lifespan of five and seven years. But if you take good care of them, they can last up to ten years. The good side of composite fillings is that they can be added to and repaired easily, meaning if a piece breaks, your dentist can add it back in rather than replace the whole thing.

However, the lifespan of composite fillings is determined by factors like diet, oral hygiene routine, the occurrence of bruxism, and their location in the mouth. Various studies outline that composite fillings may not last many years for a person at a higher risk for cavities. 

Benefits of Composite Fillings

There are several benefits and reasons why you would want to go for composite fillings rather than some of the common and broadly used alternatives.

Composite Fillings Will Reveal any Further Tooth Decay In the Future

Since composite fillings are tooth-colored, it will be easier for your dental professional to detect any further tooth decay that might occur in the tooth afterward instead of being hidden due to the resemblance in color for tooth decay and metal fillings.

Composite Fillings Placement Requires Very Minimal Healthy Tooth Removal

As far as other types of dental fillings are concerned, much of the healthy tooth enamel has to be extracted so the filling can bond. Since composite fillings bond perfectly with the enamel, there is no need to scrape off as much of the healthy tooth. Composite fillings can also be used to fix larger damage and minor flaws. Therefore, whether you have a deeper or minor tooth cavity, you can undergo the composite placement procedure to restore your smile.

The Composite Filling Procedure Can Be Completed In Only One Dental Visit

Since composite fillings are easy to apply, the tooth cavities can be filled in only a single visit compared to other dental restoration techniques, which may take two or more dental visits. Additionally, the side effects are minimal, the most common being experiencing short-lived sensitivity to cold and hot temperatures after the procedure.

Composite Fillings Are Esthetically Pleasing as They Are Tooth-Colored

One major problem people had in the past as far as having fillings was concerned was that the metal fillings were obvious in color, for example, amalgam or gold. This meant that the metals could be visible whenever a person talked. Composite fillings take the color of the natural teeth, meaning they look more natural and are esthetically pleasing.

Composite Fillings are Strong

As far as fillings are concerned, you want to go for the strong ones, and composite fillings are precisely that. They usually bond perfectly with the tooth enamel of the original teeth, making them one of the fillings you can have with a lower risk of them falling off after use in the future. Composite fillings are also durable and capable of resisting fracture.

Composite Fillings Are Repairable

You may not have to undergo another procedure if your composite fillings are damaged along the way. Fortunately, these fillings can be repaired, meaning you can continue enjoying the appearance and functionality of your original teeth for an extended period before the need to receive new fillings.

Other Types of Dental Fillings

Your dental professional may offer different options as far as dental fillings are concerned. The different types of dental fillings include:

Ceramic Fillings

Ceramic fillings incorporate a form of porcelain. They are durable, with an anticipated lifespan of fifteen years. However, they are not very commonly used, they are highly costly, and their process requires two visits to the dentist.

Gold Fillings

Gold Fillings are more costly than other dental fillings, but there is no doubt you will receive value for your money. They are durable and could last twenty or more years. The gold filings process generally requires two dental visits.

Amalgam (Silver) Fillings

These have been the most prevalently utilized type of dental fillings for several years and are still broadly used in several parts of the world. They are highly durable and can last about fifteen or more years. Additionally, placing amalgam fillings is relatively straightforward because the dentist does not need to be concerned about keeping the teeth dry and clean during installation.

Amalgam fillings also cost more cheaply than other fillings used for dental restorations. However, their popularity has recently reduced. Because they do not take the color of the teeth, their appearance is not as natural. These fillings additionally contain mercury, though the American Dental Association has considered them safe and viable. Research has shown inadequate evidence of adverse effects, but more research needs to be carried out.

Glass Ionomer Fillings

Glass ionomer fillings are made from glass filler. Just like composite fillings, they take the natural teeth color and can be shaded to blend in with an individual's teeth. This implies they will be less conspicuous when compared to amalgam fillings. Glass ionomer fillings also release fluoride, lessening the possibility of developing a new tooth cavity. However, they are less durable when compared to amalgam fillings and will only last a few years. Additionally, they might not be suitable for large tooth cavities.

Find Reliable Anaheim Dentist Services Near Me

Are you looking for a dental professional who can offer expert composite filling services in Anaheim, CA? If yes, contact the hard-working and amiable dental professional at Beach Dental Care Anaheim. We are available 24/7 and will cater to your needs with the professionalism you deserve. We have been solving our patients' dental problems for decades, therefore, have enough experience. We can explain comprehensively everything involving composite fillings, including the cost, procedure, and what to expect.

And if you are not a perfect candidate for composite fillings, we have plenty of options in restorative and cosmetic dental procedures that would suit you. Also, if you want dependable details or to be updated on dental fillings in general, we expect to hear from you. Call us at 714-995-4000 for a consultation with our dental professionals.