One quick and inexpensive way to replace lost tooth structure is with tooth coloured white fillings called composites. Tooth structure can be lost to dental decay (caries or cavities), erosion (by acids), wear (due to grinding or a bad bite) and/or trauma. These materials are made up of what we call “composite”. They are basically plastics with ceramic reinforcing particles to make them stronger. Traditionally, silver amalgam was used to restore teeth which is still being used around the world.
How are fillings done?
In order to restore a tooth using a white filling (composite), the tooth surface must be prepared first. This involves removing diseased or weak tooth structure or weak previous filling materials, then preparing the tooth surfaces to receive the composite. The composite filling material is initially soft and pliable and is customized to the cavity and processed with a strong blue light that makes the material hard. It is then polished to feel like your own tooth.
What is composite made up of?
Composite is a very complex material that has gone through various generations of evolution to become what it has become today. It was originally designed for front teeth to replace metal fillings for cosmetic reasons. It has since evolved to completely replace metal fillings. It is basically a combination of ceramic particles wrapped in a plastic matrix. The plastic allows it to be molded into various shapes and the ceramic gives it strength.
At our office, we use a state of the art material that uses a patented Nano-ORMOCER technology. This technology does not use the traditional methacrylate resin. It is purely ceramic based and is deemed to be the most biocompatible restorative material available to be used for filling of teeth. All of our filling materials are manufactured and designed in Germany.
Are composites safe?
Materials used in dentistry undergo very stringent testing by Health Canada, FDA (USA) and the CE (in Europe) before they are approved for use. They must be found to be non-toxic, non-allergenic, live up to their claims and stand the test of time.
We have been using this material for over 10 years now and they have stood the test of time.
Do composites and fillings last forever?
Nothing lasts forever. Composites are designed to last an average of 5-15 years but it really depends on how well it is taken care of and what environment it is subjected to. It also depends on how large the filling is. When more than 50% of the surface of the tooth is a filling, we recommend placing ceramic fillings and/or crowns that are stronger.
If you have high caries rate, an acidic mouth, eat acidic food, grind and your teeth, how often you get professional cleanings and maintenance the composite will last less and need to be replaced.
In either case, composites and all fillings need to be replaced when they have been damaged or another cavity is forming under it.
Depending on how many fillings you’ve had and why those fillings were placed, it is important to continue to come in for your regular checkup, examination, radiographs (x-rays) and cleaning to extend the life of your fillings and catch leakages, cracks, chips and determine if they need to be replaced sooner than later.