What is a White Filling or Resin Composite Bonding?
It’s a tooth-colored, plastic-based dental material used in the restoration of small to medium-sized cavities.
How is it different from Silver Amalgam Fillings?
Amalgam restorations, more commonly referred to as “silver fillings” are made up of a mercury-based alloy (silver, tin, copper, and others). For years they have been the standard for simple restorative material in dentistry. Lately, amalgam has received a bad rep on the news due to the mercury content and its supposed toxicity. Even though numerous studies have proven the safety of the material, more and more patients choose white fillings or resin composites because of its perceived safety and improved cosmetic result.
How much does it cost?
The cost of any dental restoration is based on multiple factors: the size of the lesion, choice of material, among others. A simple, one-surface resin composite restoration can range from $80-150. Additional procedures may be warranted (i.e., pulp cap, retentive pins), depending on the conditions found during clinical treatment. The doctor will advise you whether these other procedures should be expected and the cost they carry with them.
How long does the procedure take?
A simple one-surface filling can take about 10-15 minutes, but times greatly vary depending on the size and location of the cavity, the need for anesthesia among others. When the case calls for it, several fillings can be done at the same time, saving the patient time and trouble. You can expect a dental filling(s) procedure to last about 30-40 minutes.
Are they painful?
Most of the time, you will be numb during the whole procedure, so pain is a non-issue. Only a mild initial discomfort can be expected during the numbing procedure as the tip of the needle pinches the gum, and that’s about it! After the numbness goes away (usually an hour or so), some discomfort can be expected as the tooth adjusts to changes in temperature, but this shouldn’t last more than 24-48 hours.
Should I do White Fillings or Silver Fillings?
This really is more of a personal choice than a technical one. Even though resin composites are slightly more costly than amalgams, that doesn’t prevent most people from choosing white fillings vs. silver fillings because of the cosmetic advantages. Technically speaking, resin composite restorations allow dentists to preserve a little more tooth structure than when doing amalgam restorations. A properly done amalgam should serve well for many years, but it is our experience that when they fail, the failure is almost certainly catastrophic: tooth fracture that may or may not compromise the nerve of the tooth. That’s not to say that composites are infallible: they too can fail but are usually easier and less costly to repair. Due to the overwhelming popularity of white fillings, our office does not currently offer amalgam “silver” fillings.
How is a white filling done?
After anesthetizing (numbing) the area, the cavity or fractured tooth is cleaned out and prepared for bonding (gluing) the composite to the tooth, and then the materials are placed in layers that are incrementally light-cured (hardened) with a UV light lamp. Ultimately, the filling is adjusted to your bite and polished to give it a natural-looking appearance.
How long do they last?
When carefully placed, composite restorations can successfully serve for many years. Wear and discoloration are most often the causes for replacement. Given proper care and maintenance, white fillings can be expected to last for at least 7-10 years.