Composite Filling (Tooth Colored)

What is composite filling?

A composite filling is a resin-based material commonly known as a white filling or a tooth colored filling.  It is used to restore cavities in teeth and because of its color it can be used for cosmetic improvements. 

What types of fillings are there? What are the pros and cons of fillings?

The five most commonly used fillings today are composite, amalgam, gold, porcelain and glass ionomer.

Composite (Tooth Colored)

Pros

  • Aesthetic – Resin fillings blend with your natural teeth and rarely can be distinguished.
  • Conservative – Resin fillings are very conservative and preserve your natural tooth structure.
  • Adhesion – Resin fillings creates a bond with your natural teeth, which helps insulate the tooth from temperature changes.

Cons

  • Longevity – Resin fillings may need future replacement and do not last as long. Overtime color can change from foods/drinks.
  • Post-Op Sensitivity – Resin fillings that are very large can sometimes cause tooth sensitivity due to shrinkage in the material.

Amalgam (Silver)

Pros

  • Longevity – Amalgam fillings have been around for centuries and proven the longest lasting.
  • Durability – Amalgam fillings are strong and pliable, which can resist strong chewing forces.
  • Cost – Amalgam fillings are usually the least expensive to fill cavities.

Cons

  • Color – Amalgam fillings are silver in color and darken over time.
  • Destruction of tooth structure – Amalgam fillings require more tooth structure to be removed to hold the filling in place.
  • Allergy – Amalgam fillings are made of metals consisting of mercury, in some cases it has shown potential health hazards and allergic reactions.
  • Cracks and Fractures – Amalgam fillings overtime can lead to higher risk of fractures due to a wider degree of expansion, contraction, and corrosion of the material.

Gold

Pros

  • Longevity – Gold fillings can last around 10-15 years, and unlike amalgams usually do not corrode.
  • Strength – Gold fillings are strong and most compatible to your natural teeth; it can bear load from chewing forces.

Cons

  • Color – Gold fillings are not as popular today due to aesthetics of the material.
  • Cost – Gold fillings can be very expensive and are higher in cost than all other fillings.
  • Office Visits – Gold fillings require at least two office visits.

Porcelain

Pros

  • Longevity – Porcelain fillings can last around 10-15 years.
  • Strength – Porcelain fillings are stronger than resin materials thus lasting longer.
  • Color – Porcelain fillings are more resistant to staining and unlike resin fillings do not change much in color.

Cons

  • Tooth Removal – Porcelain fillings may need more removal of natural tooth structure.
  • Cost – Porcelain fillings can be very expensive and cost almost as much as a gold filling.
  • Office Visits – Porcelain fillings require at least two office visits.

Glass Ionomer

Pros

  • Fluoride Releasing – Glass ionomer fillings release fluoride to help fight against tooth decay.
  • Technique – Glass ionomer fillings are not as technique sensitive and so are easier to place.

Cons

  • Longevity – Glass ionomer fillings are generally weaker than resin fillings so they do not last long and more susceptible to fractures. They are typically placed on baby teeth since they degrade over time.

What types of fillings are there? What are the pros and cons of fillings?

A composite filling uses a technique called bonding to adhere to your natural tooth. Sometimes, if the cavity is small, no anesthetic is needed. However, in most cases, your dentist will administer anesthetic so you are comfortable during the procedure. 

Steps of placing a composite filling:

  • Removal of all tooth decay.
  • Application of Etch and bond so filling can adhere.
  • Placement of dental composite.
  • Light curing of dental composite so it hardens.
  • Final shaping, polishing, and bite adjustment.

After a composite filling is light cured it is the hardest it will be, and once the anesthetic wears off you can go back to chewing normal and no extra precaution is needed.