Cosmetic fillings are also known as tooth coloured fillings or composite fillings technically. As the name suggests, they look and feel like natural teeth and are safe and inert at the same time.Due to their ability to mimic the composition of tooth enamel and dentine(the second layer) of tooth along with the superb aesthetics, these fillings are slowly replacing the use of conventional amalgam (silver) fillings.
What are they made of?
They normally contain a plastic resinous material along with silica fillers for added strength.
The biggest advantage of cosmetic fillings are that they bond to the tooth structure unlike amalgam fillings which were just inserted in box shape cavities for retention .The bonding of these fillings is micromechanical as in an etchant( 37 percent phosphoric acid) is used to create surface roughness on the tooth followed by a bond which is more like a dentin sealer(adhesive) followed by insertion of composite resin and contouring , carving and curing it in layers for best strength and aesthetics .
Uses / Indications:
- To restore carious tooth
- To built up any fractured or chipped off tooth due to trauma
- It can be used to replace old silver leaky fillings thereby giving better strength, aesthetics and retention.
- Dental composites are used in a lot of smile designing cases in order to make direct veneers for discolored, malformed teeth.
- Abrasion cavities due to increased force and pressure while tooth brushing can be filled with dental composites thereby avoiding further deterioration.
- Composite filling cannot be used in cases of pulp exposure where a root canal treatment is indicated.
- It cannot be used as an alternative to crowns especially in posterior (back) teeth following a root canal treatment procedure.
- Aesthetics: Cosmetic fillings give the best esthetics due to its combination of art and science. It is available in a number of shades and it can be matched and chosen according to the patients tooth color thereby giving a very natural color and hue to the tooth.
- Strength: In the past, the concept of stronger fillings in dentistry was the use of rigid, very durable materials. However, these fillings on the contrary resulted in more decay due to the ability to crack. However, the modern dentistry taking nature as a guide introduced composites. These materials mimic dentine and hence due to their bonding nature, transfer the forces to the tooth, thereby increasing the longevity of the restoration done.
Due to its technique sensitive nature, dental composites have a higher staining rate if contaminated by blood during filling or incase if it’s not polished well. Hence complete isolation and a dry environment is needed to use this material along with special polishing kits.
Composites are also used to make indirect inlays, which are fabricated in a dental laboratory using the manual, or CAD CAM assisted technology. Hence, they are used for wider restorations wherein any other material like the conventional amalgam would fracture.