A dental filling is a type of restoration that essentially repairs a tooth that has a cavity and prevents it from further decay. When decay has caused a small hole in the outer layer of your tooth (the enamel), a dental filling is the most common treatment. However, if the decay has extended into the tooth center, a root canal and/or crown may be needed to properly restore it.
If a filling is all that is needed, you’ll find that there is more than one option when it comes to the type of filling material. In recent decades, amalgam (known as metal or silver fillings) were most common. While these are still used today, a more preferred filling alternative is now available: tooth-colored composite resin, also known as a “white filling”.
What is Composite Resin?
Composite resin is a white or tooth-colored mixture made of plastic and powdered glass or quartz. These white fillings are less-invasive, BPA-free, non-toxic and completely safe for patients of all ages. Composite fillings are considered the leading choice by both patients and dentists for a variety of reasons.
Here’s a brief recap of why you should opt for tooth-colored fillings instead of the amalgam counterpart:
Less Tooth Prep
Compared to white fillings, silver fillings require a larger hole to be drilled in your tooth so that it can properly adhere. Unfortunately, this tends to weaken the tooth. With composite fillings, only the decayed portion of the tooth is removed and more of the natural, healthy tooth structure is preserved.
A Stronger Tooth
A white filling is directly bonded to the porous surface of your tooth, which not only patches the area of decay but strengthens the tooth as well. However, an amalgam filling is held in place by pressure and force against your tooth, or “wedged in.” Therefore, white fillings can create a stronger, more durable tooth for future protection.
More Aesthetically Pleasing
The most obvious benefit of choosing composite resin is the cosmetic gain. Not only can you avoid the flashy silver of an amalgam filling, but you can also customize composite fillings to match your smile. This highlighted advantage gives patients a more natural-looking dental restoration and protects their smile confidence.
Last but not least is the safety factor of amalgam versus composite resin. There is a lot of buzz surrounding the safety amalgam fillings because they contain a small amount of mercury. This can be especially disconcerting considering the fact that amalgam fillings can become damaged and leak over time. To help patients avoid this risk altogether, composite resin can be used instead. White fillings are considered a safe, long-term solution.
Composite Resin for Cosmetics
Composite resin is so highly preferred that it is also widely used cosmetically, or to enhance the appearance of your smile. Composite resin can be strategically applied to a tooth to change its size, shape and/or color. Beyond its powerful restorative benefits, this white filling material can be a quick and affordable solution for correcting minor aesthetic imperfections. This is called cosmetic dental bonding.
Composite resin bonding can fill in small tooth gaps, correct a chipped tooth or even cover up stubborn stains. Patients welcome such an easy and simple way to create drastic improvements in their smile. Whether you are using composite resin for tooth repair or smile enhancement, the treatment process is performed in just minutes without the need for dental sedation or downtime.
Schedule Your Consult for a White Filling or Composite Bonding
If you want a natural-looking cavity repair or you are worried about the mercury in your existing amalgam filling, we would love to further discuss the benefits of composite resin. Our cosmetic dentist can also help you understand if your smile flaws can be corrected with this same preferred dental material. At Grateful Dental, we proudly give patients the latest, most proven options in dentistry – including those that restore your smile health, preserve its aesthetics and protect your overall safety.