Louisville Family Dental

Composite (Tooth-Colored) Fillings

Composite Fillings

Composite resins, or tooth-colored fillings, provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from the constant stress of chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth and are a good choice for people who prefer their fillings to look more natural.

Tooth-colored fillings are now used more often than amalgam or gold fillings, due to cosmetics. In a society focused on a white, bright smile, people tend to want fillings that blend with the natural color of their teeth.

Composite fillings benefits:

  • durable
  • natural appearance (tooth-colored)
  • usually can be completed in one visit
  • resists fracture
  • can be used to fix minor flaws and larger damage
  • only short-lived temperature sensitivity after the procedure
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Composites cost more than amalgam and occasionally are not covered by some insurance plans.

How long do composite fillings last?

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Composite fillings, while durable, tend to have a shorter life span than amalgam fillings. Studies have shown a lifespan of 7-10 years for a composite resin filling, although your fillings may last longer or shorter depending on many factors including how well you take care of your teeth.

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The Procedure

It generally takes longer to place a composite filling than it does for a metal filling. That’s because composite fillings require the tooth be kept clean and dry while the cavity is being filled. Unless there are special circumstances, the process of getting a composite filling is fairly straightforward and can be finished in one visit. Your dentist may start by selecting the shade of composite to use in your filling at the beginning of your visit. Some research says it’s better to make this match early on, before your teeth and mouth dry out, which may affect the brightness of your teeth.

You’ll get a shot of a numbing agent for local anesthesia to numb the tooth and surrounding area. The dentist will drill into your tooth enamel and remove the decayed part of your tooth. They’ll clean and dry the area and prepare the tooth. With more extensive damage, this might entail some tooth shaving. The dentist will etch and bond the tooth. They’ll begin layering the composite material into the hole in your tooth. The dentist will use a light to cure the composite filling and get it to set. Since the composite is applied in layers, the light will be used to cure each layer before going on to the next.

The dentist will shape and contour the tooth, then polish it. Your dentist will check your bite to make sure you’re comfortable with the restoration. Afterward, you might have a little short-lived sensitivity to heat and cold, but it should go away pretty quickly.