What are Composite Fillings?
A composite filling is a white tooth-colored resin and glass mixture which is commonly used to repair teeth with minor decay. Composite fillings are very common and probably the most frequently performed dental procedure. Composite fillings can also be used for cosmetic reasons. They can be bonded to fix chipped surfaces, fill in voids and even cover up minor surface stains.
The first step in placement of a filling is to remove all tooth decay. The remaining tooth should be pristine clean structure. The tooth is treated with a bonding agent to create a bond between tooth and filling. The resin filling starts out as a soft putty like consistency. It is placed on the prepared surface of the tooth and sculpted into shape. When Dr. Sycamore is happy with the shape he will shine an ultraviolet light on it. The ultraviolet light causes polymerization of the resin and the filling becomes hard and strong. Dr. Sycamore can then polish the filling and adjust the bite.
The finished composite resin filling is strong and natural looking. When you open your mouth wide to laugh or eat, no one will see dark fillings. But there are other advantages as well. Since composite fillings are actually bonded to the teeth, they require less tooth reduction than silver amalgam fillings. They also serve to bond cusps together and we see less cusp fracture than we do with amalgam restorations. They also don’t stain the teeth or gums. Perhaps the most important advantage is that composite resin fillings are much more bio-compatible than silver amalgam restorations.
The disadvantages are that they don’t last quite as long as metal fillings, but in my opinion the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. That’s why we don’t place silver amalgam restorations in our office.