Cosmetic restorations

Cosmetic restorations are a tooth-colored alternative to traditional amalgam fillings. (You may know amalgam as “silver fillings,” they’re the same material.) Both cosmetic and amalgam fillings are used to replace areas of decay in a tooth. At Laurelwood Family Dentistry, we favor cosmetic fillings because they are less noticeable than amalgam fillings and they improve the appearance of your smile.

Why do I need a filling?
When your natural tooth structure is weakened by decay, a cavity forms. To remedy the situation, Dr. Ertl will remove the decay, which then leaves a space that needs to be filled. He fills this space with a material designed to fill, protect and retain the remaining structure of the tooth. We call it a filling because it fills the space from which the decay in the tooth was removed.

What are cosmetic or tooth-colored fillings?
Traditionally, dentists have used metal “amalgam” (silver) fillings. Cosmetic fillings are a tooth-colored alternative to traditional silver fillings. They are made of a composite plastic resin, and they look just like natural teeth. They are also known as composite fillings or tooth-colored fillings.

What are the disadvantages of amalgam fillings?

Amalgam fillings stand out in stark contrast to your natural teeth because they are very dark and metallic. Amalgam fillings can also corrode and leak over time, potentially staining teeth. In Dr. Ertl’s experience, when an amalgam filling fails the patient often needs a crown to protect the remaining tooth structure (because comparatively more tooth structure must be removed in order to place an amalgam filling).

What are the advantages of cosmetic fillings?

The most obvious advantage of cosmetic fillings is aesthetic. Because we can select color shades to match your natural tooth color, they blend right in. Cosmetic fillings also bond very tightly to your existing teeth and work extremely well for small cavities. When cosmetic fillings fail, they are easily removed and replaced with another cosmetic filling (because comparatively less tooth structure must be removed to place a cosmetic filling, which means more natural tooth structure survives).

Am I a good candidate for cosmetic fillings?

Nearly everyone is, yes. Ask Dr. Ertl if they are right for you. They are strong and durable and blend in to your natural teeth, giving a very natural appearance.

Can I have my old amalgam fillings replaced with cosmetic fillings?
Yes, it’s very likely that you can. Removing aged amalgam is usually a simple procedure. Dr. Ertl will then examine the tooth structure under and around the old filling to see if more extensive dental work is necessary; but if not, he will give you a new cosmetic filling in the same appointment.

What can I expect from the cosmetic filling procedure?

Once your cavity is treated or your old amalgam filling is removed, Dr. Ertl will prepare the tooth so that it is ready to bond tightly with the new filling. The filling is made of composite, which is a flexible plastic resin that can be shaped like silly putty. Dr. Ertl will apply the resin in layers, hardening each layer as he goes with a high intensity light. Your filling can be finished in one appointment, but the results will be beautiful and last for years to come.

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