Tooth colored fillings (composite resins) have been used to restore front teeth for over 50 years. However, the use of these fillings to restore back teeth only began in earnest about 20 years ago. The composite resin materials initially used on back teeth were not strong enough to withstand the incredible forces and wear generated by chewing. These earliest tooth colored fillings were weaker than the old reliable silver fillings (amalgams). However, advancements in materials and techniques have greatly improved the durability of the tooth colored fillings. In terms of comfort, preservation of natural tooth structure, strength, longevity and esthetics, composite resins now represent the state-of-the-art in dental restorations.
Silver fillings (amalgams) are metal alloys; silver, copper, tin, and/or palladium combined with mercury. Over the last 20 years, there has been some controversy regarding the health risk of mercury in silver fillings. Although studies have been conflicting, many patients are choosing to replace existing silver fillings with composite resins.
Composite resins are a mixture of plastic and glass that are bonded to the tooth with a dental adhesive. Composites are non-metallic and use an adhesive to seal off the underlying tooth structure, results in less sensitivity to thermal changes. The adhesive also eliminates the need for additional drilling to undercut and lock-in the restoration as with amalgams, and greatly reduces any possibility of the filling falling out. The adhesive also adds strength and support to the remaining tooth structure, reducing the chance of tooth fracture.
Composite resins are not only used to restore decayed areas, but are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of the teeth, closing spaces between teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth. Dr. Boyle can blend shades to create a color nearly identical to that of the actual tooth. Composites can be truly invisible.
If you have any questions regarding composite resin restorations, Dr. Mahlin would be happy to discuss them with you.
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