A composite restoration is a tooth colored restoration that is intended to fill cavities. It can also be used to “bond” small tooth fractures of front teeth. Fillings are generally completed under local anesthetic. It is a very short procedure that normally takes about about 30 minutes.

Are there alternative options to white fillings?

Alternative options to tooth colored restorations include amalgam (silver filling). This is a very outdated technology that has been abandoned by many dental offices for a variety of reasons. Most patients would prefer a tooth colored restoration to a gaudy metal filling. Secondly, composite can bond to the tooth. This allows us to be more conservative and preserve more of your natural tooth. Other concerns include the mercury content of amalgam.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Do I need to be numbed for a filling?

In most cases, you do. The only time you wouldn’t need to be numbed would be for minor bonding to repair a small tooth fracture. An example of this would be if you have a small chip in one of your front teeth. In these cases, since we aren’t drilling into the tooth to remove a cavity, we can typically complete the procedure without anesthetic. In cases that require cavity removal, anesthetic is required to keep you comfortable and pain free.

Can I eat after having a filling placed? How about drinking?

We recommend waiting until the anesthetic wears off before you eat anything. Eating while numb can lead to biting your tongue and cheek.  This can result in a lot of soreness and swelling. It’s best to wait until the anesthetic begins to wear off before you eat something. As far as drinking, we recommend avoiding anything hot until the anesthetic wears off. This way you don’t burn yourself. Room temperature and cold beverages are completely fine and can be consumed immediately. Just watch out for the drool!

Will my tooth be sore after a filling?

It’s not abnormal to have sensitivity after a filling is placed, especially if it is a deeper cavity. However, at our office we use a desensitizing gel on the tooth prior to placing this filling. This results in limited to no post-operative sensitivity in most cases.

How long do fillings typically last?

The longevity of fillings really depends on how well you take care of them. Fillings can last as many as 20 years if you practice good home care. However, patients who don’t brush or floss their teeth will need fillings replaced more frequently due to recurrent cavities. In addition, patients who clench and grind their teeth will wear down their fillings quicker. This leads to the need for more frequent replacement of fillings. In scenarios where patients break their filling due to grinding, a crown may be needed in order to properly restore and protect the tooth.