By: Clint Newman DDS On: July 10, 2014 In: Restorative Dentistry Comments: 0

Composite Fillings

When faced with having a cavity filled, today’s patients have more choices than in the past. One newer material for fillings is composite resin, a mixture of acrylic resin and powdered glass-like particles. Unlike gold or amalgam (silver) fillings, composites are tooth-colored and can be artfully shaped to resemble a real tooth.

In Nashville, these tooth-colored fillings have proven popular among our patients, in part because composites can be specifically blended to match a patient’s other teeth. This “camouflage” leaves our patients with a confident, natural smile.

Today, tooth-colored fillings are being used more often than metal fillings. In fact, some patients are choosing to replace their silver fillings with these natural-looking composites.

Though everyone enjoys a beautiful smile, aesthetics aren’t the only reason to consider composite fillings. Composite fillings save more of the original tooth since only the decayed part is removed to prepare for the filling. Amalgam fillings require a larger portion of the tooth to be removed.

Another issue with amalgams: They tend to expand and contract more with heat. Over time, this can cause a tooth to crack. In contrast, composite fillings bond to the tooth itself, supporting the tooth and insulating it from extreme temperatures.

Composite Fillings Benefits

Advantages of Composite Fillings include:

  • Color. Composites can be matched to existing tooth color.
  • Durability. They are long lasting in small to mid-sized restorations.
  • Added support. Composites chemically bond to teeth for greater support.
  • Location. May be used on front or back teeth.
  • Less destructive. Preserves more of the tooth than an amalgam.
  • Stable. Does not corrode.

The Process

A composite filling can usually be done in one sitting:

  1. The tooth is isolated from saliva and kept dry.
  2. The decayed part of the tooth is removed, either with a drill or air abrasion.
  3. Composite resin is placed in layers where the decay has been removed.
  4. Each layer is hardened using a special light.
  5. After the tooth is filled, the composite resin is shaped to resemble a tooth, ensuring a comfortable “bite.”
  6. The restoration is polished to prevent staining and early wear.
  7. If a patient is particularly concerned about staining, a clear plastic coating can be placed over the composite to help prevent the color from changing.

Other Considerations

Composites are aesthetically pleasing and a popular option, but there is no one “best” solution for every situation. Some things to consider with composites:

  • Not as durable as amalgam and will need to be replaced more often than metal fillings.
  • May not be suitable when a large filling is needed.
  • Cost more than an amalgam restoration.

A consultation with our cosmetic dentist will help you determine the right technique for you. Factors we will weigh include the location of the cavity and how much of the tooth has been decayed.

Our office offers a number of cosmetic dentistry treatments, including veneers, implants, and dental crowns, to meet your needs. For information, please call us for a consultation. We can examine your tooth to determine the appropriate solution for you.

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