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Composite Dental Fillings: What are they and when are they used?

Many people will develop a cavity that requires a filling over the course of their life. Despite how common this oral condition is, you may not be familiar with the options you have for fillings. Today, our Manitoba dentists explain composite fillings, a common choice to fill a cavity that is visible when you smile or speak.

What is a composite filling?

When you develop a cavity, your dentist will remove the decay from your tooth and use a filling to cover or 'fill' the area where the decayed material was.

Traditionally, most fillings were made of a silver coloured material called amalgam that is quite visible. While amalgam fillings are still a good and durable treatment option for your back teeth, other options have been developed to fill cavities that are visible when the patient smiles or speaks. Composite is one such option.

Composite fillings are a tooth-coloured mix of plastic and ceramic that matches the shade of the natural tooth more closely than its silver counterpart. 

When are they used?

Composite fillings are effective for repairing chipped or cracked teeth because they blend in with your tooth and have a natural appearance.

Tooth areas that sustain heavy use, such as the chewing surfaces of molars, are typically not good candidates for a composite filling.

Some dental plans won't cover the cost of composite fillings in these areas due to their reduced strength in comparison to amalgam. Speak with your dentist to determine which type best suits your needs.

Why Composite Fillings?

  • Composite fillings blend with your natural teeth, making them virtually invisible. 
  • The material is slightly flexible resulting in reduced drilling, and preserving more of your natural tooth.
  • The resin material in composite fillings creates a strong bond with your tooth.
  • They are durable and can withstand moderate pressure and usage.
  • They are well-suited to small fillings and repairs.
  • Composite can also be used to handle other cosmetic alterations, such as changing the colour or shape of your teeth.

How Long Do Composite Fillings Last?

Composite fillings, while durable, tend to have a shorter life span than other filling materials. They tend to last between 7 - 10 years, depending on your lifestyle and oral health care habits.

Are Composite Fillings Safe?

Composite dental fillings have become increasingly popular and are considered safe for use.

Both composite filling and sealants are made of resin material, containing BPA which releases for some time in the mouth after filling replacement. However, the amount found in the fillings to not pose a threat to human health and composite fillings are an approved filling choice by the Canadian Dental Association. 

If you require a filling or have noticeable cracks, chips, or gaps, contact our Manitoba dentists today to schedule a consultation.

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