A filling is an ideal way to restore a tooth damaged by dental decay. With composite resin, we can restore the tooth’s natural shape and function. Dental fillings in Santa Maria are a long-term, conservative solution to tooth damage.

Why Do I Need a Filling from Santa Barbara Family Dentistry?

Why Do I Need a Filling from Santa Barbara Family Dentistry?

A tooth with dental decay is at risk of an infection, which can result in the need for root canal therapy or even an extraction.

Your Santa Maria dentist’s goal is to help you retain all your teeth for a lifetime. To that end, they recommend regular check-ups so they can monitor your teeth for decay. The earlier they find the decay, the better. It’s preferable to treat a small cavity than it is to repair a large one. A tooth with severe decay is highly compromised, and a filling might not give the tooth the structure and support it needs to withstand bite pressure and acids from the foods and beverages we consume.

That being said, even if it’s been a while since your last dental visit and you have a large cavity, there is a good chance we can restore the tooth with a composite filling.

Why Do I Need a Filling from Santa Barbara Family Dentistry in Santa Maria Image.

How Is Dental Decay Diagnosed?

How Is Dental Decay Diagnosed at Santa Barbara Family Dentistry Image.

How Is Dental Decay Diagnosed?

There are two ways to diagnose dental decay.

First, your dentist will do an oral examination with a mouth mirror and tool called an explorer. They’ll evaluate each tooth and look for signs of decay, such as discoloration or soft enamel.

Second, the Santa Barbara Family Dentistry team utilizes dental x-rays to see between the teeth, under the gum line, and inside the teeth – basically, anywhere the dentist can’t see with the naked eye. Dental decay will appear on the x-rays, allowing the dentist to double-check every tooth and avoid missing a cavity.

What Dental Filling Options Do I Have?

Composite resin is the most common filling material. It’s durable, biocompatible, and can be matched to the natural shade of your teeth.

Amalgam filling material (silver fillings) is rarely used these days as it contains mercury, a toxic element that can contribute to health problems.

Another option for filling a tooth after removing decay is a dental inlay or porcelain filling. This option is longer lasting than composite resin because porcelain is a more robust material. The process for getting a dental inlay is more involved and is similar to a crown preparation appointment in that we take impressions and send them to a dental lab. A technician then fabricates a custom porcelain filling, which your Santa Maria dentist will cement into the tooth. Because of this more involved process and lab fees, the cost of an inlay is significantly higher than a composite filling.

What Happens During a Filling Appointment at Santa Barbara Family Dentistry Image.

What Happens During a Filling Appointment?

Your dentist will numb the tooth or teeth that need treatment to ensure your comfort during the procedure. Once you’re numb, they’ll remove the decay, double-checking that they’ve removed all of it before filling the tooth.

After removing the decay, the tooth is cleaned and conditioned. If the decay is deep enough to be near the tooth’s nerve, your dentist will place a special medication to reduce nerve sensitivity and for added protection.

Then, your dentist will prime the tooth before adding a bonding agent. The composite material is then placed into the tooth. It starts with a putty-like consistency, making it easy to pack into the tooth and mold. The dentist will pack the resin layer by layer using special instruments to ensure no voids in the material. Voids can make the filling weak and even allow for bacterial microleakage, resulting in recurrent decay under the filling. We want to avoid that at all costs!

Once the tooth is filled, your dentist will shape the composite to mimic the natural anatomy of that tooth. After that, they’ll cure the resin with a UV light. What was once a soft putty is now a hard, durable filling.

Your Santa Maria dentist will check your bite to ensure the filling isn’t too high, which can cause the filling to break or lead to nerve irritation. They’ll adjust the bite if necessary and follow that with a lot of polishing. When your appointment is over, the filling will look like your natural tooth – you won’t even be able to recognize that it’s a filling.

What Happens During a Filling Appointment in Santa Maria Image.

Regular Check-Ups Help Us Minimize Your Discomfort

We understand that going to the dentist produces anxiety in many patients. So much so that some patients wait until they’re in pain before seeing their dentist.

Our team advises against this. Regular check-ups can help your dentist catch dental decay in its earliest stages when it’s easier to treat.

If you’re experiencing dental anxiety to the point that you want to cancel dental appointments, contact Santa Barbara Family Dentistry. We’ll do everything we can to ease your mind and make you completely comfortable during your visits so we can reduce the amount of restorative treatment you need.

Do you think you might need a filling?

Contact us to schedule a check-up today!