Eastover Dental Practices’ Treatment Options for Cavities
Many patients in the Charlotte-area and across the country are opting for composite fillings, or resin tooth colored fillings, instead of traditional silver (amalgam) fillings. This dental restoration treatment option is offered to patients and conducted in our Charlotte NC dental practice, located in the Eastover neighborhood.
For those concerned about mercury in traditional tooth filling material, which makes up 50 percent of a dental amalgam, or for patients who simply wish to have a mouth filled with beautiful white teeth, composite fillings are a great alternative.
What is a Composite Filling?
A composite filling is a tooth-colored filling that bonds to the tooth structure and restores most of the original strength of the tooth. It is composed of a resin material made from a plastic and glass mix and is an alternative to silver fillings. They are great options for small to mid-sized cavities.
Composite vs Amalgam Fillings
Composite fillings proved a natural-looking solution to cavities, compared with amalgam restoration, which tends to stand out in the mouth. Dr. Stout can mix the colors to match your tooth enamel, though be aware that stains from wine or coffee can discolor the composite filling over time.
Silver expands over time and can weaken the teeth, making them more susceptible to breaking due to cracks from the expansion. Since broken teeth are very expensive to restore, composites can save a lot of expense over the long term. Composite fillings, on the other hand, are bonded to the teeth and restore dental strength.
Teeth restored with composite fillings are less sensitive to hot and cold than those restored with amalgam, if correct techniques are used. Composites are mercury-free and require less removal of tooth structure. Especially with new cavities, the size of the hole made for the filling can be dramatically smaller with composites.
Composite fillings tend to cost more than amalgam fillings, due the materials used, the fact that they must bond to the teeth, and require more equipment.
How Long Do Composite Fillings Last?
No dental filling lasts forever. Resin composite filling technology is still relatively new, though has improved in strength over the last 10 years. Previously, composite fillings were only placed in front teeth, due to their durability. Now, they are suitable for back teeth as well.
Studies are mixed when it comes to longevity of composite resins fillings over amalgam. Most reports will show that amalgam lasts longer, while more recent studies show both types to last equal amounts. Some even report that the composite lasts even longer. One of the determining factors is the location in the mouth, but more importantly, the skill of the dentist who places it. Rest assured that Dr. Stout is well-practiced in composite filling procedures!
Lastly, and as with all dental care, the better you look after your teeth, the healthier they will be. Brush twice daily, floss every day, and see us Stout Dentistry every six months, and your filling will last longer than those who don’t practice good oral hygiene.
Will My Dental Insurance Plan Cover a Composite Filling?
Insurance companies are notoriously stubborn and many do not cover composite fillings, unfortunately, mainly to help their bottom line. Because composite fillings require more technique to bond the resin to the tooth, the process takes more time. A dentist can fill more amalgam restorations into a day, which makes insurance companies happier and puts more money in their pockets.
Mercury is inexpensive and requires fewer materials and equipment to place than a tooth-colored filling. Lastly, insurance companies believe that composite fillings are purely cosmetic choices, given the assumption that they do not last as long. However, when done properly and when the patient cares for their teeth, a composite filling will last as long as an amalgam restoration.
The good news is that as composite fillings improve and become more common, insurance plans will likely increase their coverage.
Composite Filling Cost
The cost depends on the type of treatment required based on the severity of the cavity. Some dental health insurance plans will cover the cost of the composite up to the price of a silver filling, leaving the remaining amount to be covered by the patient. Others leave the cost entirely up to the patient.
If you have any further questions about composite fillings or to check if your insurance plans covers them, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly staff at Stout Dentistry. Call us today at (704) 332-7737 to schedule an appointment.