What are Composite Fillings?
Composite fillings are tooth-colored restorations used for the treatment of mild to moderate dental decay. Composites come in a variety of colors and shades, and may be mixed to achieve the best match to one’s existing smile. Unlike silver fillings (amalgams), which are held in place through mechanical retention, composites are bonded to natural tooth structure. This means, that composites are frequently a more conservative restoration as only tooth structure that is affected by decay needs to be removed. The composite material is made from plastic and glass, and properly placed composites provide patients a great long term outcome.
When is a Composite Required?
A composite is required for treatment of mild to moderate tooth decay (cavities).
How It’s Done
Composites are completed in just one visit. While in most cases, the tooth will need to be “numbed” there may some instances where decay is very shallow and no anesthesia is required.
The tooth is prepared by removing all decay. The surfaces of the tooth to which the composite will be bonded are etched with a light acid to enable better bonding of the composite material. The etch is thoroughly removed and a bonding agent is placed. The composite is then placed and sculpted to match the natural contours of the tooth. The composite is hardened through a curing light. The dentist will then check your bite and insure you are comfortable prior to your departure. The entire appointment may be between 15 and 45 minutes depending on the size and number of composites to be placed during the appointment
Benefits of Early Treatment
Tooth decay or cavities, once formed, typically do not heal over time, but only grow. If enough decay occurs the tooth either must be restored with a larger filling, which compromises more of the healthy tooth structure, or must have a crown placed, a more costly and extensive procedure. Furthermore, when a cavity reaches close to the nerve of the tooth, a patient may begin to have sensitivity or pain. Once the cavity reaches the nerve, or pulp, of the tooth, not only a root canal will be required. When decay is found either through a clinical exam or radiograph is it is best to treat it, so that further complications and costs are avoided. Learn about our comprehensive oral health examinations by reading our Preventative Dentistry page.