What is a Composite Filling

Team Pediatric Dentistry

Dental fillings are one type of restorative dentistry. A composite dental filling is among the most common and the most visually attractive type of filling. Dental fillings are the typical treatment in the event of cavities or tooth decay.

What Causes Cavities?

Cavities are caused by plaque build up. Plaque usually builds up because of poor oral hygiene or too much sugar. This can cause an accumulation of bacteria which will  break down food particles and the sugar in them, and then cause an acid to form on the surface of your child’s teeth. If teeth aren’t cleaned or treated, the acid attacks the enamel coating of the teeth, causing plaque and tartar to build up as well as slowly causing destructive decay. 

Kids are especially very sensitive to tooth decay, particularly when it comes to primary teeth. Primary tooth enamel is more susceptible to decay than that of permanent, adult teeth.  

So, when decay occurs, a filling is needed, and a composite filling can be an excellent choice for treatment.

What Does a Composite Filling Look Like?

A composite filling blends in well with your natural tooth color. Yes, metal fillings are also available, but a composite filling will fit right into the damaged area of a tooth, repairing it to both restore natural function, while being virtually unnoticeable.

In fact, when a composite filling is used, you usually cannot even tell that any damage ever occurred to the affected tooth. 

When is a Filling Needed?

Your child will need a filling if there is a cavity in a tooth or tooth decay. Filings are used for minimal decay and cavities, if the tooth is causing pain, or is otherwise compromised. 

Prior to getting a filling, any tooth decay is drilled out and removed, and then the gap caused by the decay removal will be filled in with a material that’s durable and strong. 

The composite filling keeps bacteria from entering the drilled out area of the tooth and prevents any additional tooth decay.

The composite filling material is bonded to your tooth using an ultraviolet light. That bonding process makes the tooth strong, restoring it to its full function. 

What is a Composite Filling Made Of?

Composite fillings are made from resin, a plastic material used for many different dental procedures. 

Your dentist will examine a guide to the various shades of resin to pick a color that best matches the color of your natural tooth, so that your filling blends in well with your teeth.

Are There Alternatives to Composite Fillings?

While composite fillings usually offer good durability and are cost effective, some people choose silver, gold, or porcelain fillings. 

Compared to metal alternatives, composite fillings look just like your natural tooth, and for smaller cavities, they usually last as long as metal fillings do. Larger cavities may require metal fillings for more longevity. 

How Long Do Composite Fillings Last?

Composite fillings typically last up to ten years. Following good oral hygiene habits increases the lifespan of a composite filling. This includes:

  • Regular twice a day brushing and flossing
  • Scheduled visits to your child’s dentist for exams and cleanings 
  • Avoiding highly acidic or sugary food which can also cause more cavities

Ready to Learn More About Composite Fillings?

If you’re ready to learn more about composite fillings for your child, or the other types of fillings available, just give us a call at Pediatric Dental Associates of Clinton. We’re here to help.