White fillings, also known as tooth-coloured or composite fillings, are used instead of the traditional silver-coloured or metal amalgam fillings to fill cavities caused by tooth decay. They are made from materials such as powdered glass and acrylic resin and can be shaded to the desired colour.
However, the process of having a white filling placed is more complex and takes significantly longer than having a traditional metal filling placed.
White Filling Procedure?
If, after discussion with your dentist, you decide to go ahead with having white fillings placed, your dentist will start by numbing the area using a local anaesthetic. Once the tooth in question is completely numb, the next step is to isolate the tooth from the rest of the mouth using a small sheet of rubber to create what is called a ‘rubber dam’. This isolation is essential for both your comfort and also to ensure the tooth is kept dry so that the white filling will bond to your tooth properly.
Your dentist will then create a cavity in the tooth using a high speed rotating dental drill, before treating the cavity base and walls chemically to ensure the white filling bonds well to the tooth. They will choose the right shade of filling to match your teeth and then it will be carefully placed in layers to fill the cavity. Each layer must be hardened using a special light which cures the white filling material. This light curing process will take up to 30 seconds for each layer.
It is essential that your dentist protects your eyes during the light curing process, and you should be provided with protective glasses with special filters in the lens. Your dentist will also protect their eyes and those of their assistants by covering your mouth with a translucent, handheld screen.
Once the filling has been set hard, your dentist will check that you can bite comfortably before polishing the surface. Then your new white filling is ready for use.
The benefits of white fillings
White fillings are used to seal tooth cavities and prevent tooth decay (as long as you exercise good dental hygiene and have regular dental check-ups). They should ultimately reduce any sensitivity associated with the cavity as well.
However, the appearance of white fillings is clearly a major plus when compared to silver-coloured or metal amalgam fillings since white fillings are almost undetectable in your mouth, and mercury-free.
Additionally, because white fillings can be glued to the teeth, they can be used in smaller cavities than would be needed if silver-coloured fillings were placed.
Common risks of white fillings
The chemical treatment of the cavity walls required for white fillings involves the controlled use of acid gel. Also, white fillings contract slightly when they are light cured by the dentist. The combination of these two features can result in short-term sensitivity to hot and cold after your white filling is placed. Normally this sensitivity only lasts for 48 hours, although if it persists you should seek advice from your dentist.
Occasionally, teeth will die after a filling has been placed, but this is a general risk of all kinds of filling – there is no evidence to suggest that it happens more frequently after white fillings than any other kind. However, it is accepted that white fillings are not ideal for very large or deep cavities because of the difficulty in keeping the tooth dry during the filling process, and the difficulty of curing deep fillings.
How long will a white filling last?
How long a white filling will last does depend on the size, with the rule of thumb being the smaller the filling, the longer it will last. As a rough guide, you could expect a moderate sized white filling in a back tooth to last six to eight years. However, although this type of filling is recommended for aesthetic reasons, the materials they’re made from are less durable than that of a silver or gold filling and therefore may not be the best option for teeth that endure a large amount of chewing force.
What to ask before agreeing to have a white filling
Make sure that you know the cost of the white fillings before work is started. White fillings count as cosmetic dentistry, which is not covered by the NHS.
You should ask your dentist about alternative treatments to white fillings if your teeth need very deep or large fillings – for instance, inlays, onlays or crowns.
Are white fillings suitable for me?
Your suitability for white fillings can only be decided once your dentist has completed a thorough assessment of your general oral health and the teeth in question. However, you are probably not suitable for white fillings if you have very deep cavities. Otherwise they can be a good choice for most people.
What can I claim for if something goes wrong with my white filling?
Although white fillings are considered a routine part of dental treatment, on some occasions the procedure may not go to plan. Errors can occur as a result of dental negligence with the following complications, which might result in the opportunity for a dental negligence claim:
Failure to clean out the cavity in the tooth to a satisfactory standard leaving decay still present in the tooth, and the potential for pain and infection
Poor execution of the white filling leading to gaps where decay can take hold, pain, fracture of the tooth or early filling replacement
Contact the Dental Law Partnership
The Dental Law Partnership has won compensation for multiple clients who have suffered as a result of dental negligence regarding cosmetic dentistry.
If you have suffered in any way due to negligent cosmetic dentistry – whether it be pain, embarrassment or financial loss you can contact the expert solicitors at the Dental Law Partnership to discover if you have a claim.
Call us today on 0800 0853 823 for free, no obligation advice – and to get the ball rolling. We will fight for every penny of the compensation you deserve to make up for the suffering and expense you have undergone.