Tooth-coloured fillings

Slide show of cases treated by composite resin fillings at Blackrock Dental Surgery

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What are tooth-colored fillings made from?

Tooth-coloured fillings are made of composite resins. These are synthetic resins, usually made from a monomer called Bis-GMA. They also contain some fller particles which give a more glass like properties/appearance and a photo initiator which allows immediate setting(hardening) with use of a blue light(light cure).  Light-cured composite resin fillings have been in use since the seventies and are continually being updated and improved.

What are the advantages or disadvantages of tooth-coloured fillings?

Their tooth-like appearance and ability to bond to dentine and particularly to enamel of natural teeth are key properties which make these excellent materials for fillings. The fact that these are bonded to surrounding tooth enamel can strengthen cusps of restored teeth and make them more resistant to fracture than with conventional amalgam fillings.

However there are some disadvantages and limitations. compared to conventional amalgam fillings. Composite resin fillings are technique sensitive, relying on the skill and protocols followed by the dentist and are also dependent upon the site of the restoration as contamination with blood/saliva can affect the quality of the bonding/seal.

Typically these fillings tend to take longer to place due to their technique sensitivity and most times a dental dam will be used to reduce contamination during bonding procedure.

The properties of these types of fillings can be varied according to the need for strength or appearance.

Recent studies have shown that the longevity of composite resin fillings is comparable to that of conventional amalgam fillings when good technique and proper case selection are used.

What types of fillings can be done using composite resin?

Historically composite resins were mainly used for front teeth rather than  the load bearing surfaces of teeth further back.  Improvements in strength of composite resins now allow them to be used to restore back teeth. These type of fillings  can be used to restore teeth in many situations listed below:

  • Restoring decayed teeth.
  • Build up broken/fractured teeth.
  • Replacement of old amalgam fillings on back teeth.
  • Replacement of old fillings after tooth whitening.
  • Cover up unsightly stain/discoloured enamel.
  • Improve appearance at front by closing spaces or changing shape of existing teeth.
  • Building up teeth worn through grinding or acid erosion.

Technique used