In a perfect world, you would never get a single cavity in your whole life. Of course, Clear Lake cosmetic dentist Dr. Cindy Flanagan and the rest of the team are delighted to help our patients with preventive care to keep their teeth as healthy as possible, but we recognize that you may occasionally need a dental filling. In fact, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, “92 percent of adults [aged] 20 to 64 have had dental caries (cavities) in their permanent teeth.” Cavities may be quite common, but they are still unhealthy and need to be taken care of.
If you’re embarrassed about your smile because of decay or dark fillings in your teeth, you may be a good candidate for composite resins. As one of the top Houston dentists, Dr. Flanagan can offer you durable, aesthetic restoration. A tooth-colored dental filling can help you simultaneously repair and enhance your teeth, giving you a healthy, beautiful smile.
Strengthen Your Smile with Composite Resins
For many years, metal or amalgam dental fillings were the standard. However, modern dentistry offers much more sophisticated solutions. Made of a silicon dioxide-filled, tooth-colored plastic mixture, composite resins can restore teeth to an attractive, healthy state.
Benefits of Tooth-Colored Fillings
Dr. Flanagan strives to provide the highest quality restoration materials to our clients. Composite resins represent several advantages over traditional silver, or amalgam, fillings.
First of all, because composite resins are not made of metal, we can blend and mix shades to find the perfect color to match your natural teeth. This means only you and your dentist will know you have fillings. The attractive appearance of a tooth-colored filling makes it both a restorative and a cosmetic treatment.
Another pro is that the tooth/composite bond actually supports the remaining tooth structure, deterring breakage and insulating against temperature changes. Medium and small composites can last seven to ten years – that’s as long as the tried and true amalgams, without the noticeable coloration or potentially negative side effects.
Best of all, composite resins allow us to keep more of your natural tooth structure intact than amalgams. While amalgam fillings require removing more of the tooth to help it hold the restoration, tooth-colored composite fillings do not. We are committed to conservative dentistry: Dr. Flanagan and our team believe that by maintaining as much existing tooth material as possible, you’ll likely have a healthier, more beautiful smile long into the future.
The Treatment Process for a Tooth-Colored Filling
If you experience toothache, sensitivity, or see small spots of discoloration in your teeth, you may be suffering from dental caries. In this case, we recommend that you come in to see Dr. Flanagan as soon as possible. During this visit, or potentially in the process of your biannual cleaning and examination, she will diagnose your condition. If you do, in fact, have a cavity, we will schedule you for a tooth-colored filling.
When you come in for your filling appointment, we will use local anesthesia to numb the affected tooth and gums. This helps to keep you as comfortable as possible during this process. We will then cover the surrounding teeth so that the treatment only affects the decayed tooth. Next, Dr. Flanagan will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and clean the remaining part of the tooth structure. She will then ready the tooth for the filling before applying the composite resin material and molding it to your tooth for a natural look. Unlike other types of fillings, tooth-colored fillings do not require casting and can be placed and shaped directly on your tooth. Once Dr. Flanagan has put the filling on your tooth and adjusted it, she will use a lighted device to cure it, solidifying the restoration. For the finishing touch, she will file the filling down until your bite feels natural and your smile looks great.
Dental Fillings vs Dental Implants
Tooth-colored fillings are sufficient for many cavities, but in some cases, a more intensive restorative treatment may be necessary to fully mend your smile. If your decay is too extensive to preserve sufficient tooth structure, we may need to remove the tooth entirely.
Fortunately, Dr. Flanagan is also an implant dentist serving the Clear Lake area. While a dental filling repairs more superficial damage left by decay, a dental implant replaces a lost tooth’s underlying structure and provides a stable basis to hold artificial teeth. A dental implant consists of a titanium post inserted into the jawbone, where it integrates with the bone and creates a durable foundation to secure restorations. If decay has compromised so much of your tooth that none of it can be saved, Dr. Flanagan can remove the severely damaged tooth and place a dental implant. Once we’ve placed the implant, we can attach a dental crown to restore the missing tooth.
Frequently Asked Questions
We regularly place dental fillings for patients at our Houston practice. Dr. Flanagan and our team want to make the treatment process as smooth as possible for our patients, so we make ourselves available to address your concerns and answer any questions you may have. Below, we’ve responded to some of the most common queries about dental fillings.
Does most dental insurance cover the cost of a filling? If so, what materials?
Most dental insurance covers the cost of fillings, but some may cover only metal or amalgam fillings rather than tooth-colored restorations. We recommend contacting your provider to find out if it will cover the cost of a composite resin filling.
What is the average cost of a tooth-colored filling?
The typical cost of a tooth-colored filling is between $50 and $200. Of course, your particular costs will depend on your specific diagnosis, the customized treatment plan Dr. Flanagan creates for you, and your insurance coverage. We may also be able to offer you financing options through our practice.
How long is the dental filling procedure and the recovery period?
As discussed above, the procedure time for a tooth-colored dental filling is usually just a couple of hours and can be completed in one appointment.
Patients typically recover very quickly from dental fillings. It may take several hours for the local anesthesia to wear off. Some patients experience mild and temporary post-placement sensitivity for several days following placement of composite resin fillings. In many cases, after the pain of decay, the slight discomfort of a dental filling is much preferable, and usually dissipates quickly. If you notice symptoms of a sinus infection, an allergic reaction to the filling, or a bonding failure of the composite resin (meaning that the filling appears loose or not fully attached), please contact our office for assistance.
How should I take care of a dental filling?
Once your tooth-colored filling is placed, you should be able to care for it as you would any other tooth. As always, Dr. Flanagan recommends that you brush your teeth at least twice per day, floss at least once per day, and see us for a preventive care visit at least twice a year. The only caution we usually mention is that coffee, tea, and other staining foods and beverages may discolor your composites unless you ask to have them coated with a clear plastic sealant.
What are the different types and materials of dental fillings?
Dental fillings come in all sorts of materials, but the two most popular today are amalgam and tooth-colored composite resin. Amalgam combines various metals and this alloy blend is frequently used in dentistry. Composite resin is made of silicon dioxide and plastics. In most cases, Dr. Flanagan recommends tooth-colored composite as the best permanent filling material. When choosing which material you want for your dental filling, you’ll need to decide between silver vs. white, meaning amalgam vs. tooth-colored composite. For cosmetic and restorative purposes, we frequently recommend composite.
Is breastfeeding after a dental filling safe?
Yes, typically. This procedure requires only a small amount of local anesthesia. Of course, this may vary on a case by case basis. We will consider your risk factors and, if necessary, speak with your physician to determine if the dental filling should be performed while breastfeeding.
What if I need a dental filling on an immediate basis?
If you have a severe toothache, chip your tooth during a fall, damage your tooth on hard food, or encounter any other circumstance that requires swift attention, we offer emergency dental care at our Clear Lake, TX office. Dr. Flanagan and our team want to help you deal with any oral health situation that occurs. If you believe you may need an emergency dental filling, contact our Clear Lake office at 281.747.8236.
If you have any further questions or would like to learn more about tooth-colored fillings, do not hesitate to contact our Houston office.
Repair Your Smile in Style with Tooth-Colored Fillings
Do you have a cavity? Are you unhappy with an existing amalgam filling? Fill out our online appointment form to schedule a consultation with Dr. Flanagan.