Composite Fillings

Also known as ‘white fillings’, the composite filling is proving to be a popular choice of filling. It is a synthetic type of material which is composed of glass and acrylic resins and is ‘tooth coloured’ as well. This means that it will match the colour of your other teeth and ensure a uniform look.

Why this filling instead of the amalgam filling?

This filling is natural looking and can blend in perfectly with the rest of your teeth. It can match the shade and texture of your natural teeth and from an aesthetic point of view, looks so much better than the silver type of filling.

Another reason is the safety of amalgam fillings: there is an ongoing discussion in the dentistry field as well as the media as to the safety of amalgam fillings. The reason for this is that this type of filling contains mercury along with other metals and concerns have been raised as to the toxicity of this substance.

The debate still goes on but due to these media reports, some patients have decided to have the composite filling, or to replace their existing amalgam fillings with this type of filling.

The composite filling procedure

This procedure is very similar to the amalgam version in that the dentist will give you a local anaesthetic to help numb the area.

He or she will then use a small drill to remove the decay or any weak part of the tooth.

This is followed by him/her cleaning the tooth by blowing water and then air onto it. In case you are wondering how this is done, the dentist will use a small hand-held device which looks a bit like a water pistol!

The tooth is dried and then etched with a mild acid. This helps the filling material to firmly adhere to the tooth.

He or she will then use a bonding agent (dental cement) to coat the surface of the tooth before inserting the composite material. This will be pushed into the tooth cavity and shaped as needed.

The dentist will then shine a bright light inside your mouth which activates and hardens it.

Finally, the dentist will trim and polish the filling until it achieves the desired finish.

The advantages of the composite filling

This filling looks natural and as a result of this, is preferred over the traditional amalgam filling. This composite is both strong and durable and can be designed to perfectly match the colour and texture of your own teeth.

It also protects your tooth from further decay and damage.

The disadvantages of the composite filling

They have tended to be not as strong or long lasting as the amalgam filling although this situation is changing.

They can be prone to staining and tend to wear out quicker in large cavities. However, they do work well in smaller tooth cavities.

They cost more than the amalgam filling as they involve a more sophisticated procedure and more expensive materials.

How long do they last?

They last for around 7 to 10 years, although this tends to apply to teeth with small cavities. This figure is reduced for large fillings.

If you find that the composite filling is not for you then the other option is the traditional amalgam filling. Learn more about this in our silver amalgam fillings section.

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