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.

Reasons for composite fillings:

  • Chipped teeth.
  • Closing space between two teeth.
  • Cracked or broken teeth.
  • Decayed teeth.
  • Worn teeth.
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.

FAQs

Q: Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?

Over the years there has been some concern as to the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings.  An amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin and zinc, bound by elemental mercury.  Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for more than 100 years.  The controversy is due to claims that the exposure to the vapor and minute particles from the mercury can cause a variety of health problems.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), up to 76% of dentists use silver containing mercury to fill teeth.  The ADA also states that silver fillings are safe and that studies have failed to find any link between silver containing mercury and any medical disorder.

The general consensus is that amalgam (silver) fillings are safe.  Along with the ADA’s position, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, the FDA, and others support the use of silver fillings as safe, durable, and cost effective.  The U.S. Public Health Service says that the only reason not to use silver fillings is when a patient has an allergy to any component of this type of filling.  The ADA has had fewer than 100 reported incidents of an allergy to components of silver fillings, and this is out of countless millions of silver fillings over the decades.

Although studies indicate that there are no measurable health risks to patients who have silver fillings, we do know that mercury is a toxic material when we are exposed at high, unsafe levels.  For instance, we have been warned to limit the consumption of certain types of fish that carry high levels of mercury in them.  However, with respect to amalgam fillings, the ADA maintains that when the mercury combines with the other components of the filling, it becomes an inactive substance that is safe.

There are numerous options to silver fillings, including composite (tooth-colored), porcelain, and gold fillings.  We encourage you to discuss these options with your dentist so you can determine which is the best option for you.