Many patients prefer composite fillings over amalgam ones because the former restorations are tooth-colored and don’t detract from the smile, like noticeably dark metal ones do. Additionally, the composite fillings are mercury-free, which is important to some patients, as mercury has toxic properties.
However, in the past, there has been some question about the durability of composite fillings, so patients may have been reluctant to consider this option for large fillings or those on teeth with a sizable chewing surface that would be subjected to repeated stress. Fortunately, composite filling materials have improved significantly in terms of durability over the past several decades, allowing your dentist to use this option in a variety of scenarios of decay.
In fact, composite fillings have other advantages in addition to their durability and aesthetic benefits. They bond better with biological tooth enamel, so your dentist will not need to drill as large of a space to accommodate the filling as is necessary with amalgam fillings. When more healthy enamel can be preserved, it benefits the patient and helps the tooth remain stronger in the future. Additionally, composites do not expand and contract with temperature changes like amalgam ones do, so there is less of a chance that the composite filling with crack or break due to excessive cold or heat.
The process of getting a composite filling is quite similar to getting an amalgam one. The decayed tooth material is removed via drilling, and the composite is prepared in the office. Its color can be manipulated to match the teeth as closely as possible, although it may not be the exact shade of your biological enamel. After the filling is placed, it is “cured” using a special light. The whole process is usually completed in an hour or less.
In addition to being more attractive than dark amalgam fillings, tooth-colored composite restorations are quite durable and can stand up to strong chewing forces. If you want a more aesthetically pleasing filling for your cavity, contact our office about this treatment option.