Over 90% of Americans will have a tooth cavity at some point in their life. In the past, that meant patients had no choice but to get expensive and unsightly gold or silver amalgam fillings. To get a more natural look, patients now have the choice of composite resin or precision-manufactured porcelain fillings. The main advantage of resin composite fillings is that cavities or decayed teeth can be repaired and matched to the exact color of the surrounding teeth.
White fillings are actually resin composite fillings. Composite fillings are made of plastic and ceramic compounds that are used to fill or fix decayed teeth. Composites are used for many different cosmetic procedures including reshaping misshapen teeth, making uneven teeth more uniform, or whitening teeth.
White or tooth colored fillings work well for small and medium sized cavities that receive moderate pressure from the constant stress of chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth and they are a good choice for patients that have cavities in front teeth, and are concerned with their appearance because the composite can be matched to the tooth.
What are the Advantages of Composites
Composite material has several other advantages. Unlike silver fillings, the resin composite material is mercury-free. After the damage or cavity has been repaired, the restored tooth will be much stronger because the composite binds directly to the structure of the tooth itself. When filling or correcting uneven or misshapen teeth, composite material is especially popular on the visible surfaces of the front teeth. Composite dental work will appear uniform in both color and shape compared to the neighboring teeth. Finally, sometimes less of the decayed or damaged tooth has to be removed to place composite fillings compared to silver amalgam.
The biggest advantage of using composite materials for fillings is the fact that the materials do not contain any mercury like amalgam fillings. The dentist can also color the composite so it matches the color of your tooth, so it is a cosmetically better alternative than amalgam fillings. Composites are strong and can actually protect the tooth and insulate it from extreme temperature changes.
Placing Composite Fillings
Composite fillings take longer for the dentist to place because the tooth must be kept clean and dry during the time the tooth is being filled. A benefit of composites is that they bond to the tooth structure. The bonding protects and improves the overall strength of the restored tooth. Resin composite fillings and true porcelain fillings are a popular choice because patients want a white, bright smile without any flaws.
Because the tooth must be kept clean and dry during placement, composite fillings take slightly longer than the alternatives. Composite material works best for small- to medium- size cavities. If a tooth has a big cavity or needs a larger repair, composite material may not be the best solution due to the possibility of chipping. Just like real teeth, the material can be stained by coffee or tobacco, Over time, the composite material will wear down with normal use. Small to medium fillings last an average of 7-10 years, which is comparable with silver fillings
Another more natural-looking choice for fillings and dental work is true porcelain. Compared to the composite material, porcelain is more resistant to stains. It works best for larger repairs and areas under high pressure from chewing. Ceramic fillings are more expensive than the other choices but can last 10-15 years.
Choosing Your Filling
Ultimately, there are many factors to be weighed when choosing which filling to use. Cost, location of the tooth, and the type of decay or damage are all things the dentist will take into consideration. We will explain the options to you so that you can get the treatment most suited to your needs. To make an appointment, please call (310) 477-2488.