White Filling Material - Composite Resin – An aesthetic and functional choice
Today the vast majority of patients, when given the choice of filling material, will request a white filling. As dentists, we understand this to mean a composite resin as opposed to the silver/black/mercury fillings that were commonly used in the past and are still used today. There are pros and cons to each material. Read on to learn more about the improvements in white fillings as well as when and where they can be used.
Composite resins are also known as white fillings or plastic fillings. They are composed mainly of small spheres of glass and ceramic pieces embedded in a resin that hardens in the mouth. When placing the composite in the mouth a layer of glue (bond) is applied to the tooth prior to packing in the semi-solid composite material. Most often a blue light is applied to the composite that initiates a chemical reaction and changes the semi-solid material into a solid. By changing the qualities of the glass and ceramic fillers that make up the resin, a variety of natural tooth shades can be mimicked. Furthermore, because a bond is applied to hold the composite in place, using composite resins can be more conservative with regard to removal of enamel and dentin and a more natural tooth structure can be maintained. In areas of tooth wear cosmetic dentists can often bond the composite resin onto the tooth without drilling, foregoing the need for anesthetic. This is ideal for patients with significant wear or sensitivity of their teeth due to wear occurring on the sides of the teeth. Composite resins are usually placed in one appointment and can be easily adjusted or repaired in the future if chips develop. Many patients find composite resin fillings appealing because they closely match the color of the existing tooth so that fillings do not appear obviously visible within the mouth.
The main disadvantage of composite resins occurs with their use in large restorations in the posterior areas of the mouth (i.e., large fillings on the large molars). The intense forces that can be produced during eating and sometimes unconsciously during teeth grinding can test the strength of a plastic material. Composite resins are best used to restore smaller or moderate cases. Discuss your options with your cosmetic dentist. Some cases may be better treated with an inlay, onlay or crown. The huge popularity of composite resin fillings does not negatively reflect on the quality, durability or safety of amalgam fillings. Existing amalgam fillings do not need to be replaced unless they are shown to be failing.
Advantages of choosing a white (composite resin) filling:
*Immediate tooth repair
*Conservative preparation of the tooth
Teeth that have been filled will still need to be maintained and cleaned just like natural teeth. Book an appointment with your cosmetic dentist for regular evaluation and maintenance.
(1) website: http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/faqs_resources/faqs/dental_amalgam_faqs.asp#2 Canadian Dental Association
(2) website: http://www.ada.org/public/topics/fillings.asp American Dental Association