A composite resin is a tooth-coloured plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide). Introduced in the 1960s, dental composites were confined to the front teeth because they were not resilient enough to resist the pressure and wear generated by the back teeth. Since then, composite white fillings have been considerably improved and can be successfully placed in the back teeth as well. Composites are not only used for restoring decay but are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the colour of the teeth or reshaping flawed teeth.
Most patients who choose composite fillings do so because of the cosmetic benefits. We can create a filling that is matched to the shade of your teeth, so your fillings will blend seamlessly into your smile. Like all fillings, composites protect your teeth after decay is removed to prevent breakage of the remaining tooth structure. These fillings also help to prevent sensitivity that can occur after the decayed portion of the tooth is removed.
Composite fillings allow us to preserve more of the natural tooth structure. This is because composite materials chemically bond to the surface of the tooth like an adhesive. The process takes slightly longer to complete than traditional amalgam fillings, but patients can preserve more of the natural portion of the teeth while enjoying a restoration that is discreet and understated.
White composite fillings are increasingly used as an alternative to silver-mercury fillings, largely due to their aesthetic appeal, and because of mercury concerns. However, there have been claims that composite resin fillings may be damaging to health.
Tooth-coloured composite fillings typically are comprised of three components: inorganic fillers, a resin matrix, and coupling agents. The resin matrices for most dental composite resins today contain Bis-GMA, which is made from the Bisphenol-A (BPA) monomer that is believed to induce similar effects to estrogen in the human body.
Some studies have found evidence of BPA in the saliva of patients following fillings or sealants. Although the presumed effects of BPA could be most harmful to children and infants, because of their underdeveloped immune systems, experts are not certain whether this level of exposure constitutes any health risk to fetuses, children, or adults. As a biological dentist, we have minimized the risk of BPA by using only non-BPA/Bis-GMA composite resin fillings in our practice.