Composite Fillings


Composite Fillings

A composite (tooth colored) filling is used to repair a tooth that is affected by decay, cracks, fractures, etc. The decayed or affected portion of the tooth will be removed and then filled with a composite filling.

There are many types of filling materials available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. You and your dentist can discuss the best options for restoring your teeth. Composite fillings, along with silver amalgam fillings, are the most widely used today. Because composite fillings are tooth colored, they can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth, and are more aesthetically suited for use in front teeth or the more visible areas of the teeth.

As with most dental restorations, composite fillings are not permanent and may someday have to be replaced. They are very durable, and will last many years, giving you a long lasting, beautiful smile.


Types of Fillings

For many years, there were few choices of material for teeth fillings. Today, your options include:

  • Amalgam Fillings. Amalgam fillings are possibly the best known, having been in use for more than a century. These fillings are made from a combination of metallic elements and are extraordinarily strong, making them suitable for the back teeth where chewing takes place. They are one of the least expensive options. They typically will last from 10-15 years.
  • Composite Fillings. Also sometimes referred to as filled resins, composite fillings are a combination of ceramic and plastic and have the advantage of being able to match the colour of your tooth. They can handle good amounts of chewing and are excellent for small- and mid-sized fillings. Composite fillings can last roughly 7 years.
  • Metal. The most common metals used for fillings are gold and silver, with gold fillings costing as much as 10 times the amount of silver. Though more expensive, some prefer the appearance of gold. Metal fillings are quite durable and can last many years, with gold averaging 20 years or more.
  • Ceramic. Like composite fillings, ceramic can be made to match the colour of your tooth. Usually made of porcelain, it can be more stain-resistant than composite but falls into a price range closer to gold fillings. Ceramic fillings will often last about 15 years.
  • Glass Ionomer. A blend of acrylic and glass, these fillings will release fluoride to help protect teeth, but they are less durable than other materials and may need to be replaced within 5 years or so.

Why Choose Composite Fillings?

A composite filling is an excellent choice for fillings. Aside from the ability to match the tooth’s colour, they do not contain mercury, require less removal of the tooth to be repaired, and actively strengthen the tooth by bonding to the structure of the tooth in a way that other fillings cannot.

Metal fillings can act as a wedge in the tooth by transmitting the force of your bite into the remaining portion of the tooth, which may result in a crack or break. In contrast, by bonding to the tooth, a composite filling distributes the force of your bite more evenly, effectively making the tooth stronger and more resistant to damage. In addition to filling cavities, composites can be used to repair chipped, broken, and worn teeth.

For these reasons and more, many opt to replace their amalgam fillings with composite.

At Rocky Ridge Dental in Calgary, we will meet with you to determine if your amalgam fillings can be replaced with composite, providing you with a durable, natural-looking tooth. For more information, contact a member of our professional team who will be happy to answer all of your cosmetic dental questions.


How are composite fillings placed?

Composite fillings are usually placed in one appointment. While the tooth is numb, your dentist will remove decay as necessary. The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared before the new filling is placed. If the decay was near the nerve of the tooth, a special medication will be applied for added protection. The composite filling will then be precisely placed, shaped, and polished, restoring your tooth to its original shape and function.

It is normal to experience sensitivity to hot and cold when composite fillings are first placed, however this will subside shortly after your tooth acclimates to the new filling.

You will be given care instructions at the conclusion of your treatment. Good oral hygiene practices, eating habits, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new fillings.

What is the process of composite fillings?

Following preparation, the composite filling is placed in layers, using a specialized light to harden each layer. When the process is finished, the composite is shaped to fit the tooth. It is then polished the composite to prevent staining and early wear.

How long does it take to get a composite filling?

There are many factors that can determine just how long it will take to get a composite filling, including the size of a cavity or fracture, its location, and how many fillings you need. Patients should be prepared to sit in the dentist’s chair for up to one hour or more for a filling.

Will teeth be more sensitive with composite fillings?

Composite material used in tooth coloured resin causes no sensitivity. You can still feel sensations to a point (hot or cold drinks for example) but generally composite fillings don’t create additional sensitivity.

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