What is a Composite (white) Filling?
A Composite is a tooth coloured plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide). Composites are not only used to restore decayed areas, but are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the colour of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.
What will my dentist do?
Your dentist will:
- Usually numb the area around the tooth with an injection – but some small fillings may not need an anaesthetic;
Remove any decay, together with any old filling material, using a small, high-speed drill;
- Wash and dry the tooth by blowing water and then air onto it (the dentist will be holding something, which looks like a water pistol);
- Etch the surface to be restored with a mild acid, to help the filling stick better;
- Coat the surface that is to be restored with a bonding agent (which acts like cement) and then place the filling material – this is pushed into the cavity that is to be filled and it is shaped as required;
- Harden the filling by pointing a bright light at it, inside your mouth (you will see the dentist and dental nurse protecting their eyes) – this is called ‘curing’ finish by trimming and polishing the filling as necessary.
What are the advantages of a composite filling?
Aesthetics are the main advantage, since dentist can blend shades to create a colour identical to your actual tooth. Composites bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure, which helps to prevent breakage and insulates the tooth from excessive temperature changes.
What are the disadvantages of a composite filling?
After receiving a composite, a patient may experience post-operative sensitivity. Also, the shade of the composite can change slightly if the patient drinks a lot of tea, coffee or other staining foods. Composites tend to wear out sooner than silver (amalgam) filling in larger cavities, although they hold up as well in small cavities.
How long will a composite last?
Studies have shown that composites can last up to 7-10 years, which is comparable to silver fillings except in very large restoration.