They say laughter is the best form of medicine. But what can you do if each time you let out one of those big belly laughs, all you can think about is the people staring at all that “silver” in your mouth? For those of us concerned about the appearance of the teeth in our mouth, such matters are less than trivial. They can hold us back from social situations where we are likely to be front-and-center, and in a larger context, can prevent us from being ourselves. Fortunately, with new color-matching technology and advanced materials, you no longer have to suffer with mismatched teeth and a mouth that reminds you of the James Bond character JAWS. So how is it done?
It’s done by using “white” or “tooth-colored” fillings instead of the traditional amalgam fillings used in the past. The dental community refers to these fillings as “tooth-colored” because of their unique ability to mirror the color, texture and luminescence of your own teeth. Aside from getting a great color match, these fillings have the added benefit of bonding more securely with your tooth than traditional fillings, and like a regular filling, can often be completed in a single visit.
The two most common forms of tooth-colored fillings are made from either porcelain or of a composite acrylic resin. Each achieves the same natural look, but are fitted to your tooth in a different manner. Your dentist will help you decide on your best option given your budget and the health of your tooth.
The process for both is fairly simple, and first includes removing any decayed or weak areas of the tooth. When using composite resin, once the dentist has completed the prior step, your tooth would then be prepared for bonding by etching it with a mild acid solution. After that, the composite filling would be layered into the areas of your tooth that need to be sealed. Finally, a special light is used to harden these layers and the tooth is shaped and polished to prevent staining and early wear.
In contrast, with a porcelain filling, once the tooth’s weak or decayed areas were cleared, your dentist would then make an impression of that area, and either make a filling for you in-house, or have it fabricated off-site. If the filling needed to be made off-site, your dentist would fit you with a temporary one until it arrived. At that point, you would schedule an appointment to return to the office and have the custom filling cemented to your tooth.
It’s important to note that not every tooth can be fitted with a composite or porcelain filling, and your dentist may recommend a different solution if the tooth has experienced a significant area of decay. Or, is in an area of your mouth that receives heavy chewing pressure.
Whether your wish to achieve a more natural look with tooth-colored fillings is cosmetic, or if the opportunity presents itself because older fillings have become loose, considering a more natural-looking approach to repairing your teeth has never been easier.