Bring a smile to your face by replacing your old, weak, or unsightly silver fillings with new tooth-colored replacements.
In front teeth, tooth colored fillings are usually made of composite resin and repair dental decay, erosion or abrasion problems with an undetectable end result. In back teeth, tooth colored fillings can be used to repair small decay or erosion problems, or replace silver fillings. For larger and more severe cavities, tooth colored fillings may not be the best answer. Porcelain veneers, ceramic onlays, or crowns and bridges, may be a better solution.
What is a composite resin (white filling)?
A composite resin is a tooth colored plastic mixture filled with glass (silicone dioxide). Introduced in the 1960s, dental composites were confined to the front teeth because they were not strong enough to withstand the pressure and wear generated by the back teeth. Since then, composites have been significantly improved and can be successfully placed in the back teeth as well. Composites are not only used for restoring decay, but are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.
How is a composite placed?
Following preparation, the dentist places the composite in layers, using a light specialized to harden each layer. When the process is finished, the dentist will shape the composite to fit the tooth. The dentist then polishes the composite to prevent staining and early wear.
How long does it take to place a composite?
Because a composite is more difficult to place than a silver filling, it takes the dentist about 10-20 minutes longer to place, depending on the size and location of the cavity.
What is the cost?
Prices vary, but composites average about one and a half to two times the price of a silver filling. Most dental insurance plans cover the cost of the composite up to the price of the silver filling, with the patient paying the difference.
What are the advantages of composites?
Aesthetics are the main advantage, since dentists can blend shades to create a color nearly identical to that of the tooth. Composites bond to the tooth to support the remaining structure, which helps to prevent breakage as well as insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes.
What are the disadvantages?
Along with the higher cost and extra placement time, the patient may experience post-operative sensitivity. The shade of the composite may also change slightly if the patient drinks tea, coffee, or other staining foods. Another drawback: composites tend to wear out sooner than silver fillings in large cavities, although they hold up just as well in smaller cavities.
How long will a composite last?
Studies show that composites generally last 7 to 10 years, which is comparable to silver fillings, except in very large restorations, where silver fillings have been shown to last much longer than composites.