White or tooth-colored dental fillings are most often made from a mixture of powdered glass and acrylic resin. One obvious advantage of this type of filling is that it is shaded to blend in with one’s natural teeth, making it a discreet restoration that doesn’t stand out. More and more people are wanting their smiles to look as natural as possible. This is why, despite the reliability and durability of amalgam fillings, composite fillings are more popular than ever before. They are commonly used to repair the front teeth.
Composite resin fillings are also used to repair teeth which are worn down, have chips, or are broken. They save more of the tooth’s natural structure than a metal filling because they are bonded directly to the tooth. Since more of the natural tooth material is preserved, this provides added stability, making the tooth stronger even though it was initially weakened by dental decay at the outset.
White dental fillings do not contract and expand when exposed to temperature extremes, which lessens the tooth to fracturing–which can happen with amalgam fillings. Unlike amalgams, composite fillings don’t cause the tooth to be more vulnerable to cracking. White fillings are well suited for repairing small to medium sized cavities, for the front teeth as well as those teeth which handle mild to moderate pressure when chewing.
With composite dental fillings, when you need to have cosmetic alterations done to the tooth, they can be shaped and contoured realistically to enhance its appearance. But, composite fillings tend to take longer to place than amalgam fillings. The composite resin material necessitates that the tooth is clean and dry during the filling process. If water is allowed to come into contact during the filling it will impede the effectiveness of the gluing material and negatively impact the fillings longevity.
To place the filling, the composite will be laid down in layers. A curing light is typically used to harden the filling layers as they are applied. Once the layering is complete, the composite will be shaped to the tooth’s contour and polished. Polishing helps to make the filling more stain-resistant and proper contouring makes it less vulnerable to wear and tear. Unfortunately, if one regularly drinks staining beverages such as coffee, tea, wine and dark sodas, discoloration is possible. To prevent this, a clear plastic coating can be applied over the filling to help prevent staining.
Something to keep in mind is that composite fillings are softer than metal fillings, which makes them more vulnerable for those who struggle with bruxism–the constant grinding and clenching of the teeth due to stress. Bruxism makes the filling more vulnerable to wear and tear, and the fillings may need replacing more than their amalgam counterparts.
Good oral hygiene care is required to maintain the life of composite fillings by preventing cavities around the filling edges. Brushing and flossing must be practiced daily to reduce harmful oral bacteria and plaque from invading your tooth. During routine dental visits your dentist will inspect the fillings to make sure that they are in good shape.