Tooth-Colored Fillings in Lacey, Tacoma, and Tumwater

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just about everyone will eventually have a cavity (tooth decay) at some point in their life.

In fact, the CDC considers dental caries (the medical term for cavities) to be the most common chronic disease in American children, surpassing even asthma! Caries doesn’t go away when you become an adult either; in fact, 9 out of 10 adults over the age of 20 have some level of decay.

Here’s some good news for you, though.

The rate of cavities has significantly decreased over time, particularly in areas where tap water is fluoridated. You can also reduce your risk of cavities with excellent home hygiene, regular visits to our office, and preventive treatments like fluoride varnish or dental sealants.

If you do happen to develop a cavity, don’t worry. We’ll take care of it for you at our Lacey, Tumwater, or Tacoma dental office. And unlike in the past when fillings were made with silver-colored metal amalgam, today we offer tooth-colored fillings made of composite resin. Nobody ever needs to know that you have had a cavity!

What is a cavity?

Most people associate cavities with eating and drinking too much sugar. This is only part of the story, however. Tooth decay is actually caused by bacteria that live in your mouth.

You normally have millions of bacteria in your mouth. Some are helpful, and some aren’t. Bacteria eat sugar molecules and then excrete acid. It’s these acids that are actually responsible for breaking down your dental enamel and creating the holes and pits that we refer to as cavities.

The decay-causing bacteria can actually be transmitted from person to person, which is why the CDC considers dental caries to be a disease (and a good reason to never share your toothbrush with anyone!).

Brushing and flossing help prevent cavities by removing the sticky film called plaque from your teeth. Plaque is made up of saliva, food particles, and bacteria. When plaque is allowed to stick around, it keeps the bacteria in close contact with your enamel and eventually hardens into tartar (or calculus), which can only be removed with professional instruments. This is why dental cleanings are so crucial at our Lacey, Tumwater, and Tacoma dental offices.

How do we treat cavities?

To treat a cavity, we have to remove the damaged portion of your tooth. We then restore the damaged portion of your tooth with a filling.

Metal amalgam fillings have been used to treat cavities for more than a century, and they were useful in their time. Today, however, we have a better way.

Composite resin can be blended to perfectly match the natural shade of your enamel, but that isn’t the only reason dentists, and patients prefer composite fillings. Unlike amalgam fillings, composite fillings actually bond to your tooth structure. This means that we can preserve more of your healthy tooth structure, which is better for your teeth in the long run.

What can I expect with a tooth-colored filling?

If you are experiencing a sudden toothache or sensitive tooth, this could be a sign that you have a cavity. When you come to our Tumwater, WA dental office, we will perform a visual exam of the tooth in question. We’ll also take an x-ray so we can determine how far the cavity has reached below the tooth enamel.

When cavities are in their earliest stages, we can sometimes treat it with a sealant at our Tacoma dental office rather than a filling. We’ll keep an eye on it at future examinations to ensure it is not getting any bigger.

For a well-established cavity, we’ll recommend a dental filling to protect your tooth from further decay. Getting a tooth-colored filling isn’t all that different from getting a metal amalgam filling. We’ll need to drill away the decayed portion of the tooth first. The good news is that with composite, tooth-colored fillings, we won’t need to remove as much of the tooth structure at our Lacey, WA dental office.

Your dentist will apply the composite resin material in layers, curing each one before applying another. We will ask you to bite down on the tooth to ensure it feels comfortable, making adjustments as needed. Tooth-colored fillings in Lacey, WA look so natural, you probably won’t even be able to tell you have one!

If the cavity has reached deep inside the tooth root, we might recommend a root canal.

What are the benefits of tooth-colored fillings?

In addition to their esthetic quality, tooth-colored fillings at our Tumwater, Lacey, and Tacoma dental clinics provide other benefits to our patients:

  • Less of the tooth structure needs to be removed before using tooth-colored fillings.
  • Tooth-colored fillings are less sensitive to temperature changes, and they tend to expand and contract with the tooth they have filled, so there is less risk of fracture.
  • Because we bond the tooth-colored composite material directly to the tooth, they are strong tooth restorations that will last a good number of years.

Should I replace my metal amalgam fillings with tooth-colored fillings?

Unless your metal amalgam fillings are starting to fail or causing fractures in your tooth, this is entirely up to you. The American Dental Association strongly believes in the safety of amalgam fillings, and they have been successfully keeping tooth decay at bay for many years. But if you prefer, you can talk to the dentists at our Lacey, Tacoma, or Tumwater dental office locations about having yours replaced with natural-looking, tooth-colored fillings.

How do I take care of my tooth-colored filling?

Taking care of your tooth-colored filling is the same as taking care of your other teeth. Brush and floss regularly, and be sure to see your dentist twice a year for checkups and cleanings at either our Lacey, Tacoma, or Tumwater dental office locations.

Because the composite material is susceptible to staining, it’s a good idea to rinse or brush after eating or drinking stain-causing foods and beverages.

Will my dental insurance cover tooth-colored fillings?

Most dental insurance companies will cover tooth-colored fillings just as they would metal amalgam fillings. If you have any questions about your coverage, we are happy to go over the details for you. We want to ensure you get the maximum benefits from your insurance coverage. Just give us a call!

Are you due for a checkup?

One of the biggest problems with cavities is that they don’t usually hurt until it's too late. This means that most people don’t realize they have tooth decay until it has done serious damage to their tooth. Regular check-ups at our Lacey, Tacoma, or Tumwater dental office locations help us identify issues like cavities early, before they hurt, so we can put a stop to them before they cause damage.

If you’re due for a checkup, please call our dental office that’s most convenient for you and schedule an appointment. We’re looking forward to seeing you!