Traditional dental restoratives, or fillings, include gold, amalgam, porcelain, and composite. At Willowbrook Dental Clinic, we usually recommend composite fillings for our patients.
What is a composite resin (white) filling?
With the advent of the newest technologies in dental science, today's restorative materials include ceramic and the latest composite materials. These materials are not only strong and durable, but restore the look of natural teeth and are very aesthetically pleasing.
Composite resin is a tooth-colored plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide).
When they were first introduced in the 1960s, dental composites could only be used on the front teeth because they were not strong enough to withstand the pressure and wear generated by the back teeth.
Since that time, composites have tried to improve, and are now used in dental inlays placed in the back teeth as well.
Composites are used to try and restore decayed areas, and are also used for cosmetic changes to the teeth, for instance by changing the colour of the teeth or by reshaping disfigured teeth.
How is a composite filling placed?
Following preparation, we place the composite in layers, and using a special light that hardens each layer. When the process is complete, we shape the composite to the tooth. Finally, we we will polish the composite to prevent staining and early wear.
How long does it take to place a composite?
Placing a composite filling takes about 10-20 minutes longer than placing a silver filling. Placement time varies depending on the size and location of the cavity - the bigger the cavity, the longer it will take.
What is the cost for tooth filling with composite material?
Prices vary, but composites cost an average of about one-and-a-half times the price of a silver filling. Most dental insurance plans cover the cost of composite fillings up to the molar teeth. For the molars, they usually pay up to the price of a silver filling, and the patient pays the difference.
What are the benefits of composite fillings over amalgam ones?
Aesthetics are the main benefit, since dentists can blend shades to create a color nearly identical to that of the actual tooth.
Composites also serve a more practical purpose, however, in that they bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure. This helps to prevent breakage and insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes.
What are the disadvantages?
Sometimes after receiving a composite, patients experience minor post-operative sensitivity. The sensitivity usually dissipates within a few weeks, however.
How long will a composite tooth filling last?
Studies have shown that composites last anywhere from 7-10 years with proper care.
Willowbrook Dental Clinic's position regarding amalgam fillings:
- Composite filling material bonds directly to the tooth structure. This means that we don't have to remove as much tooth material than we would if we were placing an amalgam filling. This reduces the risk of tooth fractures and root canals as the patient ages.
- Most dentists do not consider amalgam filling material to be the optimum choice.
- Amalgam fillings also expand over time, leading to a weakening of the tooth structure, potentially causing fractures. Composite fillings, however, support the tooth structure and thereby strengthen the tooth.
- Composite fillings are cosmetically far superior to amalgam, and, as mentioned above, their "wear rate" is the same.