Everything You Need to Know About Composite Fillings

Composite Fillings

Everything You Need to Know About Composite Fillings

There are plenty of options when it comes to getting your teeth filled between amalgam fillings and composite fillings, but how do you know which is the best one for you? Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, and in this article, we will be looking at composite fillings.

What is the difference between amalgam fillings and composite fillings?

Amalgam fillings are made from a mixture of metals, namely mercury, silver, tin, and copper. They are often referred to as “silver fillings”. The mercury that is used to bind them together is made stable and safe by the other metals in the amalgam filling. The combination lends itself to a strong and durable filling. It is commonly used on high-stress areas of the teeth like on molars.

This kind of filling has been around since the late 19th century and has a proven track record of its effectiveness and longevity. Unlike composite fillings, however, they are extremely noticeable and they often discolor teeth as light cannot pass through them. They stand out from the natural tooth material around them and some people can be sensitive to the metals that are used in the amalgam. 

Composite fillings, on the other hand, are made from a resin that s derived from ceramic and plastic compounds. Because of this, they are matched to the color of your tooth and the filings can blend into your natural smile. These are often known as “white fillings” or “tooth-colored fillings”. Composite fillings have the distinct advantage of being practically invisible. They also adhere easily to the tooth because they actually bond directly to the surface of the tooth. They also do not require the least amount of tooth to be removed in order for the filling to be placed. The fillings are also shaped to match your bite so you don’t have to worry about slippage. 

There is one drawback to composite fillings. They require a little more time than amalgam fillings. Because white fillings do not contain mercury there are no health risks associated with the use of composite fillings. Some patients experience less post-treatment discomfort or sensitivity from composite fillings.

How long should I expect composite fillings to last?

No matter what kind of filling material that is used, every filling has a finite period of use after which they will begin to fail. It is extremely important to see a dentist as soon as you notice a filling begin to fail. 

Fortunately, composite fillings have an average lifespan of seven to ten years for healthy patients. The data that we currently have is based on older types of dental fillings and major advances in the creation of fillings and the materials used have increased this estimate.

More recent studies have discovered that white composite fillings have reached the same amount of durability as traditional amalgam fillings. They have the potential to last up to 12 years if taken care of properly.

Are composite fillings strong?

In the past, composite fillings gained a reputation of being weaker than their amalgam fillings. However new developments in the materials that are used have made the fillings much stronger than the materials used in the past. This means that more people are choosing to use a composite filling over the amalgam filling in order to preserve their natural smile. 

Consult with your dentist to see which type of filling is best for you.

How much will I pay for a composite filling?

Cost is always a limiting factor when it comes to dental work. On average, a composite filling ranges between $300 to $600 per tooth, however, most dental insurance plans cover the cost of the procedure. When the procedure is done for structural reasons or to fill a cavity, most dental insurance companies will cover the cost of the fillings. 

The procedure will often require just a single visit to the dentists. The procedure is sometimes called dental bonding, as the resin bonds to the tooth after it is sculpted, shaped, hardened, and polished. The materials used for the composite are ideal for small cosmetic work or for small cavities.

What does the procedure involve?

Generally, the procedure will begin with your dentist administering local anesthesia, then applying a gentle phosphoric acid to the tooth. This acid is painless and provides a surface for the composite to be bonded to. The resin is putty-like and it is placed onto the surface of the tooth before being shaped and sculpted.

And then, a special light is used to harden the resin and to set the filling. The composite filling is then polished and buffed for a smooth finish. The entire process often takes 30 to 60 minutes per tooth. Anesthesia is often unnecessary unless the bonding is used to fill a decayed tooth. Unlike other forms of tooth repair, like crowns or veneers, composite fillings require the least amount of the tooth’s enamel – the hard white outer shell of the tooth – to be removed.

If you think composite fillings are for you, and you live in Upland, CA, give the Upland Dental Group & Implant Center a call for your consultation at (909) 985-1966. Our expert team will be more than happy to answer your questions.