Composite resins, or tooth-colored fillings, provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from the constant stress of chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth. They are a good choice for people who prefer that their fillings look more natural.
What is the difference between a composite filling and an amalgam filling?
Composite fillings are made out of powdered glass and plastic resin, blend in with the existing tooth structure, are able to preserve the natural tooth structure by bonding to the tooth, and are able to be used on allergy-prone individuals. However, composite fillings also take longer to place, have to be replaced more frequently, and can be more expensive than amalgam fillings. Amalgam fillings are composed of various metals, are highly durable, last a long time, and are more affordable. However, they have a metal appearance and allergy-prone individuals may not be able to use them.
What are the basic advantages of tooth-colored fillings?
Tooth-colored dental fillings usually fall under the cosmetic filling category. These cosmetic fillings have several advantages over metal amalgams. For patients looking for a quick, affordable, safe option this might be the top choice.
Safety and aesthetics
Tooth-colored dental filling are much more natural looking. This imparts a lot of confidence to the person who undergoes this form of dental filling. Tooth-colored composite fillings also do not contain mercury or other metals which may cause sensitivity or toxic effects. Amalgam fillings are highly notorious for their toxic effects. Several patients who undergo amalgam dental fillings have metal sensitivities. This causes a metal taste to sustain in the tongue after the filling is done. However, tooth-colored composite fillings are free of such complications.
Previously composite fillings were not as durable as amalgam fillings. However, after tremendous research dental manufactures have arrived with composite resin materials which are highly durable. Presently composite fillings are being used even for molars. One more added highlight is that composite materials require very less tooth preparation. It does not affect tooth badly like amalgam fillings. Amalgam fillings also demand extra time for more extensive tooth preparation.
When using tooth-colored composite fillings, a minimum amount of tooth structure needs to be removed. This is because composites can be placed on the tooth much more conveniently compared to amalgams.
Time and technique
The success of the composite filling will depend on the technique employed by the dentist. Cosmetic filling techniques for composite resins will demand the use of additional equipment. The procedure for composite fillings consume more time than amalgam filling procedures. The extra time consumption attributes to the higher costs associated with composite filling.
Why should I get a composite filling?
You should get a composite filling if you are in need of a small to medium filling and you want to maintain the natural look of your teeth. If you have a known metal allergy, or if you are prone to allergies, you may also want to consider a composite filling since they do not use metal. Some other possible benefits of composite fillings include their ability to strengthen teeth through their bonding process, their ability to spare natural tooth structure during placement, and their ability to be used to fix broken, worn, or chipped teeth.
What happens when getting a composite filling?
When you get a composite filling, your mouth will first be numbed to prevent you from feeling any pain or discomfort during the procedure. The first step to placing a composite filling is to remove the decayed tissue and prepare the remaining cavity. To prepare the cavity, it must be properly cleaned to ensure that all the bacteria has been removed with the decayed tissue. Once the cavity is prepared, our dentists will place a composite resin in layers, hardening each individual layer before placing the next. Once all the layers have been placed and hardened, then the filling can be shaped and polished so that it blends in with the tooth.
What happens after I get a composite filling?
After your composite filling is placed, you will be able to continue with your normal activities. Because the filling is hardened during your procedure effectively sealing it, you will have no special guidelines to follow. However, you may notice that your teeth are sensitive to hot and cold temperatures in the days directly following your procedure. This is normal for a few days after your procedure, but if the sensitivity lasts beyond a week, call our office for further instruction.
How long do composite fillings last?
The answer isn’t cut and dried. Earlier resins had a shorter lifespan and there was a question of strength. But today’s composite resins are just as strong as old silver amalgam, and they are more reliable. Plus they now last just as long, an average of 7 to 10 years.
Factors that affect a filling’s longevity are the size of the filling, the location on the tooth and in the mouth, if you clench or grind your teeth, your dietary choices, and, most of all, your home hygiene. If you’re diligent with your home care —brushing twice daily for two minutes and flossing once daily — there is a much better chance you will get the maximum lifespan out of your fillings…not to mention your teeth without fillings!
Do composite fillings fall out?
Composite fillings can fall out, but this generally only happens when they have worn out. Regular dental checkups allow dentists to monitor the wearing of your composite fillings so that we can replace them before they reach the point where they fall out. Because of this, dentists recommend regular dental checkups twice a year.
How can I get my composite filling replaced or repaired before it falls out?
To prevent your composite fillings from falling out, we highly recommend having them replaced or repaired beforehand. Regularly visiting our office allows us to consistently examine the borders of your filling for signs of wear that could indicate your filling needs to be replaced.
If we find that your composite filling needs to be replaced, dentists will remove the existing filling and then place a new filling. If your filling needs to be repaired, dentists will usually add and shape layers of composite as needed. Usually, if you have a composite filling on your molar, they recommend repairing the filling instead of replacing it. This is because replacement can cause a loss of natural tooth structure, especially in molars.
How much do composite fillings cost?
The exact cost of a composite filling will depend on the location and size of the filling. If you have dental insurance, you may be able to obtain some level of coverage, especially if the tooth requiring the filling is in the front of the mouth.
The disadvantages of white or tooth-colored options
Of course, there are also a few downsides to white or tooth-colored fillings. These include:
- They are generally more expensive than silver options. In some cases, they’re considerably more expensive.
- It takes more skill to use these fillings. As a result, it will take more time – which can translate into longer dentist appointments and higher prices. While you always want to choose an experienced dentist it’s even more important if you go this route.
- Tea, tobacco, and coffee are just a few examples of substances that can stain these filling materials, just as they can stain teeth, over time.
- They’re not as strong on back teeth.
- They don’t respond to teeth-whitening products.
The main downside to this option is that they can require a much higher investment than metal options.