Most contemporary dentists ascribe to a philosophy of conservative dentistry, that is, dental practices, techniques, and materials that allow the dentist to preserve as much of your natural, healthy tooth structure as possible. This philosophy is guided by the idea that the very best teeth are the one’s you’re born with and the more intact your smile, the better. When tooth decay causes cavities to form or when incidental trauma chips or causes a small break in your tooth, tooth-colored composite resin fillings allow Dr. Colin Lathrop to repair and restore your healthy smile in the most conservative way possible.
Back in the mid-1800s, it was discovered that an alloy of mercury and silver, called amalgam, could be used to fill in structural damage caused by cavities. Amalgam was inexpensive, easy to work with, and durable and made such an ideal filling material that some dentists today still use it. However, at Lathrop Dental Center, we prefer to place dental fillings made from composite resin. This dynamic material provides a number of advantages over amalgam fillings, including:
In short, composite resin fillings allow us to uphold our mission of providing true-to-life restorative and cosmetic dentistry in a way that preserves more natural tooth structure.
If Dr. Lathrop discovers a cavity or other structural damage during your regular checkup, he can usually place the filling in the same appointment. Before proceeding, talk to Dr. Lathrop if you feel at all nervous or anxious about the procedure. He can administer nitrous oxide, a safe and gentle gas that induces feelings of relaxation and euphoria when inhaled. First, he will numb the area. Next, he will reshape the cavity and remove all traces of decay. Then he will disinfect the area, rinse it clean, dry it, and apply a conditioning liquid to prepare the enamel for bonding to the filling. Finally, he applies the composite resin material, allows it to harden, and then shapes and polishes it to blend with your natural teeth.
In many cases, particularly for new dental fillings, Dr. Lathrop can utilize the LightWalker® dental laser to clean the cavity more precisely, and with minimal discomfort. In fact, patients do not need anesthesia for a laser-filling procedure, and the lack of numbness means you can return to your daily routine almost immediately after your appointment. In addition to minimizing discomfort, the laser also optimizes the amount of healthy tooth structure that Dr. Lathrop can help you save.