Most likely, every time you have an appointment with your dentist, you hope that the dentist won’t discover a cavity. Luckily, nearly everyone will not acquire a cavity in their lifetime if they maintain the best oral care. For those that end up with a cavity, this doesn’t mean it’s the end of their perfect smile. The use of composite fillings would probably be the best option to restore their smile. There’s much to learn about composite fillings. That’s why we invite you to Washington Dental in Carson, CA, for a detailed assessment of your damaged tooth, and let’s help you restore it with our top-notch composite filling process.

An Overview of Composite Filling

Composite fillings are a type of dental fillings made of non-toxic, tooth-colored plastic, powdered glass. They are used for dental restoration of decayed and fractured teeth, providing durability and strength for these weak areas. Composite fillings are applicable on the front and back teeth, making them a popular option for dental restoration.

A tooth that sustains heavy use like molars is not a good candidate for the composite fillings.

When You Should Consider Composite Fillings

Although your dentist is the only person who can tell you whether you need a composite filling or not, there are some common signs and symptoms that would alert you to the need for a dental filling. The following experiences should prompt you into seeking help from a dentist:

  • Tooth sensitivity with a particular tooth once it’s exposed to hot or food cold temperatures. You might also experience tooth sensitivity when you expose that specific tooth to sweet, sour, or sticky food
  • Throbbing and sharp pain on a specific tooth
  • Pain when you bite down or chew your food using certain teeth
  • Presence of dark spots and holes on your tooth, which you can feel using your tongue
  • Tearing of your flossing string while flossing on a particular tooth
  • A rough feeling of your tooth
  • Noticing of an existing tooth filling that’s cracked or broken
  • Loss of a tooth filling, meaning that you need to replace it
  • Having a chipped or fractured tooth

Ways that Your Dentist Will Know that You Need Dental Fillings

Once you have noticed the above-stated signs and symptoms, you should visit a dentist for further examinations. Your dentist will undertake some tests to confirm whether you need dental fillings or other types of dental restoration. These simple tests are as follows:

Visual Assessment

Your dentist will perform a visual assessment on your mouth, especially at the area that you’re experiencing pain. They will look for signs like white lesions, discoloration, and cracks.

Probing or Palpation

After a visual assessment has been made, the dentist will use a small device or probe to poke your teeth. This device resembles a small pick. Every type of decay responds differently to the poking. Your dentist can also use the sharp part of the pick to engage the decaying dentin. If the sharp point makes a ping sound once it’s pulled away, the dentist will confirm that you have occlusal decay. This is a type of cavity or decay that affects the exposed side of the teeth. This method can also be suitable for detecting interproximal decay, which is a type of decay that’s between your teeth. 

A combination of probing and visual assessment helps the dentist determine whether your teeth should be examined further or whether the problem isn’t cavity-related. For instance, pain around teeth in the upper jaw may result from decay in your lower tooth – a phenomenon referred to as referred pain.

Referred pain can also result from heart or lung illness, neurological conditions, or problems with your lungs or heart. For instance, sinus inflammation or infection can make your teeth feel uncomfortable. Therefore, your dentist must thoroughly diagnose you to avoid an erroneous diagnosis. 


Once the dentist completes the visual examination and the palpation around inside your mouth, he or she will probably recommend an X-ray. X-rays give a detailed exam of your tooth, and the dentist will determine if it’s a cavity. The X-ray examination will also help determine the severity and size of the cavity. It also gives a better picture of whether you need a filling or a more detailed treatment like a root canal.

Diagnostic and Treatment Plan

The dentist will explain his or her dental findings and the action plan. If the review findings discover a small decayed area in the tooth, your dentist might recommend a remineralization process or allowing the cavities to heal naturally. There might be chances of natural cavity healing if you clean the area and observe a detailed diet plan that helps reserve the cavities.

However, even if the cavity is quite large or is located in an area that’s difficult to clean, the dentist will still proceed with the dental filling process. 

The Benefits of Composite Fillings

Before you decide on composite filling as your restorative dental process, you should understand the kind of benefits that come with your choice. Below are several benefits of composite fillings that you should know about:

Guarantees Quality Aesthetics

The most obvious advantage of composite fillings is their aesthetic guarantee. They already resemble the color of your existing teeth. Technology can also allow your dentist to blend the fillings further with the natural color of your mouth to give a seamless look that anyone else cannot tell the difference.

Guarantees Added Dental Support

White fillings also add support to your weakened teeth due to decay or fracture. In a composite filling process, your dentist will most likely remove less of your existing tooth to prepare a room for the composite filling. As a result, you’ll retain much of your natural tooth, which makes it stronger after the filling process.

No Expansion or Contraction Experienced

The use of amalgam filling makes your tooth far more prone to thermal stresses. This is where your filling expands and contracts when exposed to hot and cold temperatures. This fluctuation of temperatures can weaken and crack your teeth. Conversely, composite filling contains insulating properties that guarantee protection from hot or cold foods.

Guarantees Durability

Composite has come through leaps and bounds for the past years and was deemed not to be strong enough for your back teeth where there’s more pressure exerted when grinding or chewing. However, with the advancement in modern technology, composite fillings have improved their durability ten-fold, meaning that they can be placed anywhere in your mouth without the fear of cracking.

Composite Fillings Are Versatile

If you visit your dentist, you can be surprised by how versatile composite fillings can be. Composite fillings can be used to treat a fractured or broken tooth other than one with cavities.

Takes Less Time to Harden

After the filling has been placed in your tooth, your dentist will position a special curing light in your mouth to harden it. This shortens the time that the bonding agent will take to harden. In most cases, the filling is completely cured and hardened in less than a minute. 

There are Few Chances of Tooth Sensitivity

Composite fillings have fewer chances of resulting in tooth sensitivity when compared to amalgam fillings. The resin used in this type of filling helps to insulate the tooth against hot or cold temperatures. Even so, you should note that you might experience some mild tooth sensitivity after the filling has been inserted.

Composite Fillings Are Repairable

If you have composite fillings, your dentist can repair them if they degrade. Once your dentist notices a degradation of the composite’s structure, your dentist can repair the filling without having to replace it. This reduces the cost and time spent on maintaining its functionality.

Can Replace Your Amalgam Filling

Those worried about the possible side effects of their old amalgam fillings can have them replaced using the composite resin filling. Amalgam contains mercury and can discolor your teeth, unlike composite fillings that will help you keep your teeth brighter.

Procedure for Composite Fillings

Once your dentist decides that the composite filling is the best tooth restoration procedure that you need, he or she will start the filling process. Here is a detailed process that your dentist will probably use.

Numbing of Your Affected Tooth

Your dentist will start the process by numbing your gum using a topical gel. They will then inject local anesthesia into the gum to numb the area further.

Removal of the Decay

Once the tooth has been fully numbed, the dentist will drill your tooth using a high-speed drill. They will then use a slower drill after they reach the sensitive dentin.

Preparation of the Tooth

Your dentist will prepare the tooth by shaping out the space that the filling should be placed. The composite filling requires a small amount of space to allow good bonding. Therefore, the dentist will not take much time preparing your tooth for the composite filling process.

Filling of Your Tooth

Your dentist will start the filling process by placing an acid gel beneath the filling. This creates a long-lasting bond between the filling and your tooth. After the gel is set, your dentist will continue to insert the filling.

Assessment of Your Bite

After the filling has been completed, your dentist will check whether your bite is correct. You will bite down on a carbon paper to take note of high spots and remove your newly filled tooth.


When the dental filling process has been completed, your dentist should spend time with you to discuss how you should prevent decay underneath the filling. The instructions provided by the dentist will also be useful in preventing the decaying of your other teeth. The follow-ups might also be inclusive of professional cleaning.

Potential Risks of Composite Fillings and their Remedies

It’s recommended to know about the potential risks of composite fillings and learn about their remedies, besides being a relatively safe dental restoration procedure. Some of the possible complications that result from composite filling include:

  • Infection: Sometimes, your composite filling can pull away from the tooth that it’s attached to, creating a small space. This space can be a breeding ground for bacteria and can cause further decaying of your tooth. If you notice any space between your tooth and the composite filling, visit your dentist as soon as possible
  • Damage: Sometimes, your composite filling might break, fall, or crack. In most cases, a composite filling can damage when you bite into something hard or hit something while playing. It’s also recommendable to see your dentist as soon as possible to avoid irritation and infection of your unprotected tooth

There are several ways that you can mitigate the potential risks that come with composite filling apart from seeing your dentist immediately after noticing an infection or damage. Some of the recommended practices that you should consider are as follows:

  • Following all the lifestyle and dietary instructions recommended by your dentist during the recovery. This includes practicing cavity preventive measures like brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day
  • Informing your dentist of any concerns like difficulty chewing, pain, and fever
  • Taking your medications as directed

 What to Expect Immediately After a Composite Filling Process

Although the composite filling is a common dental practice, you might experience some moderate pain and discomfort immediately after the procedure is completed. Here are some helpful tips on what you should do or avoid after a dental filling and when you need to go back and see your dentist due to the discomfort that you’re experiencing.

Pain After the Dental Filling

One reason you can experience pain after a composite filling is when the filling is too high. Your dentist will probably do his or her best to maintain the right height for your dental filling, but you might start noticing that your chewing, speaking, and movement of your jaw doesn’t feel right. Contact your dentist immediately to have the tooth reshaped or smoothened. It’s necessary to consider this since filling that’s higher than the rest of your teeth puts the other teeth at risk of cracking.

Pain in the Teeth Apart from the New Filling

After a dental filling, some people might experience pain in their teeth apart from the tooth that received the filling. This is a normal experience and doesn’t indicate that there is anything wrong with your teeth. Most of the time, your tooth with the new filling is just passing signals to your neighboring teeth. However, the pain should decrease in one or two weeks.

Sensitivity After the Dental Filling

It’s common to experience sensitivity to cold and hot food or drinks for up to three weeks after a composite filling. You may also notice increased sensitivity from the pressure of the biting on your new filling, especially if the dental filling is for a deeper cavity. Use a toothpaste that’s designed for sensitive teeth to ease down the sensitivity. It’s also recommendable to avoid very cold or hot foods for the first few weeks and try chewing on the other side of your mouth. If the sensitivity doesn’t go away after two weeks, contact your dentist.

Toothache After a Dental Filling

If you experience toothache symptoms such as constant pain, sharp pain, and throbbing, it might be a sign that the decay is going deeper into the pulp of your tooth. In this situation, you might need a root canal. Contact your dentist if you experience this.

Sharp Edges or Discomfort with your Composite Fillings

Your composite filling might not be as comfortable as it was when you were sitting on your dentist’s chair once the anesthetic wears off. However, if you notice that the filling is too high or some sharp edges might need to be smoothened, contact your dentist as quickly as possible to ensure that this is addressed immediately.

Treating Future Cavities with Dental Fillings

There are chances that you might end up experiencing another cavity even after receiving a composite dental filling. If you find your teeth are particularly sensitive after receiving a composite filling, you can speak to your dentist for an alternative restoration process. Each person responds differently to different types of dental fillings. Therefore, your dentist will look for an alternative dental treatment process to help you avoid any future cavities.

Know What to Eat After a Composite Filling

It’s best to avoid eating sticky, hard, or chewy foods after a composite filling for up to two weeks. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, avoiding hot or cold drinks and foods would be a sensible thing to do. You should continue brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day.

Use Over the Counter Painkillers if Needed

You can use ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help with any physical discomfort that might result from the composite filling. If the pain persists, reach out to your dentist for further instructions.

Ways to Maintain Your Composite Fillings

Your composite filling has an expiry date despite how durable it is. Generally, a composite filling lasts for five to seven years, but it can last beyond these years if it is well cared for. There are specific requirements that one must meet to maintain the longevity of your composite fillings. This includes the following:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste
  • Avoid biting down on hard foods
  • Limiting your consumption of sugary drinks and foods
  • Regular six-monthly checkups with your dentist and annual visits with the hygienist

Signs that Your Filling Need Replacement

There are specific factors that might prompt the replacement of your composite filling. Here are several signs that your filling needs replacement that you should know about.

The Filling is Cracked

Wear and can cause your filling to crack, although it might take years for this to happen. However, it can occur sooner than expected if you suffer from bruxism. It’s difficult to notice that your filling has cracked unless a dentist does an x-ray during your regular visits.

Remember, a small opening in your tooth, despite how narrow it seems, can allow bacteria to enter, causing decay. It’s, therefore, recommendable to have your filling checked if you experience this kind of situation. 

Your Tooth is Hurting Too Much

If you’re experiencing a throbbing toothache at the place where the filling has been placed, there are possibilities that the filling has deteriorated, and a deep cavity has developed. Leaving the area untreated may infect it and demand a more extensive dental treatment like tooth extraction or root canal.

Extreme Sensitivity to Cold Beverages

If your tooth is sensitive to cold or hot foods and drinks, there are chances that your filling has cracked, even though you can’t see it.

Please note, this is not just any kind of sensitivity experienced immediately after the dental filling. Your initial sensitivity has probably cooled down, and you’re now experiencing this after a while.

A cracked filling allows bacteria to enter into space, exposing the inner pulp, creating sensitivity and discomfort.

Discolored Filling

Composite fillings are expected to be white. Therefore, if you find yours to be darkening or looking slightly yellow, your dentist might recommend you to replace the filling to restore your tooth’s appearance and restore your beautiful smile.

Extensive Injuries

Sustaining a blow to your mouth can chip, loosen, or completely dislodge your filling, similar to the kind of experience with your tooth. Contact your dentist for your dental refilling if you experience this kind of damage.

Find the Best General Dentist Near Me

If you have a cavity, it’s clear that everything will worsen if you leave it untreated. A composite filling can help you avoid any further damage or an infection. Our skilled dentist at Washington Dental in Carson, CA, offers top-notch composite filling services and other restorative dental services. If you have any more questions on the safety, purpose, or benefit of composite fillings, we would be delighted to help you answer them. Contact us today at 310-217-1507 and experience dental services as you have never before.