In the past, dentists used various materials to fill cavities such as amalgam (metal), silver and even gold. Today, most dentists use composite resin fillings because of their natural tooth color and lack of discoloration that amalgam fillings can cause. Composite fillings are both cosmetically pleasing and durable and the most popular, safe choice for treating tooth decay.
Composite filling materials
Composite fillings consist of a tooth-colored glass and plastic mixture that matches the natural colors and texture of the existing tooth. Along with repairing decay, dentists place composite fillings for cosmetic improvements such as reshaping teeth or changing the color of teeth to match surrounding teeth.
Placing composite fillings
The procedure for placing a composite filling is relatively simple and usually performed in a single dental visit. After preparing the affected tooth by removing decay, the dentist begins placing the composite material in layers. The dentist hardens each layer with a specialized light, and when he or she completes the process, they shape the composite material to fit the tooth and look and feel natural. Polishing the composite filling prevents staining and improves its durability.
Worth the investment
Composite fillings may cost more than older, amalgam fillings, but they’re worth the investment for their improved appearance and ability to withstand temperature fluctuations better than silver fillings. Dental insurance should cover most of the filling procedure and as composite filling use improves and increases, it’s likely insurance will cover the full cost. Dentists work with their patients to make dental treatments affordable and protect the health of their teeth and gums.
Benefits of composite fillings
The main benefit of composite fillings is that they’re more aesthetically pleasing than amalgam fillings. The dentist can blend the shade of the composite material to match the natural tooth nearly identically. Composite fillings bond to the tooth and provide support to the tooth structure that remains. This bonding prevents breaking while insulating the tooth from sensitivity to temperature fluctuations.
Drawbacks of composite fillings
Composite fillings continue to improve in appearance and longevity, but there are some disadvantages. Composite fillings may become stained by coffee, tea and other foods that cause discoloration and this can change the shade of the filling. Dentists can help prevent this by placing a clear plastic coating over the composite. Composites hold up well in smaller cavities, but they may wear out sooner than amalgam fillings in larger cavities.
Dupont Dental proudly offers composite, tooth-colored fillings for our patients in need of restorations or cosmetic treatments.