Composite fillings are white, tooth colored fillings that are used to repair both small and large cavities. They can also be used in the event of a chipped tooth to fill in the missing area. Since these fillings are easily camouflaged on teeth, they are often preferred by patients. Most dentists now use this type of filling on a daily basis.
Composite Fillings: A Basic Understanding
White fillings are made of a resin material that actually bonds to the tooth when applied. They are completely non-toxic to the body and withstand strong chewing pressure. The unique bonding application makes a tooth less likely to crack over time. On the contrary, silver amalgam fillings tend to expand over time, which greatly increases the risk of tooth fracture. White fillings do not expand, but they can shrink as they age. The average composite filling will last 7-10 years, but many will last much longer.
Less tooth structure is removed when preparing the tooth for a composite filling. This reduces the chance of irritating the nerve when repairing deeper cavities. Once the tooth has been cleaned and prepared, a bonding material is placed at the base of the preparation site. The resin material is then placed in layers, and a special light is used to harden each layer. This process takes a bit more time than other filling materials.
White fillings tend to have fewer sensitivity issues after placement, as compared to metal ones. While some composite fillings can be initially sensitive to hot and cold, this will diminish over a short period of time. Sometimes, the filling may be high, which causes a sharp pain when chewing. If this is the case, a quick trip to the dentist for a bite adjustment will fix the problem.
People with a lot of silver fillings may also request that they be replaced with composite ones. This will dramatically change the patient’s smile, giving them more confidence. A consultation with the dentist can determine whether or not your fillings can be easily replaced.