What are composite white fillings?
White fillings are made from a composite resin of plastic and glass that's applied to cavities in teeth by a dentist. This composite can be adjusted to match your natural tooth colour for a seamless finish or brightened if you prefer a whiter appearance.
As well as their natural-looking results, composite fillings also bond more successfully with teeth than other types of fillings. Dentists apply a strong bonding agent that binds the filling to the tooth as it hardens, creating a tight seal to keep out bacteria.
Our dentists in Northbridge may recommend white fillings:
- to fill a cavity or repair tooth decay
- to reshape a tooth
- to replace a metal amalgam filling
- to close small gaps between teeth
Do I need composite dental fillings?
Fillings are most commonly used to fill cavities in teeth caused by tooth decay or erosion. Cavities are most common in children, whose teeth are thinner and more vulnerable to damage, but decay can affect people of all ages.
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that can build up on the teeth in a sticky layer called plaque. When you consume sugar in food and drink, this feeds the bacteria that release acids. This erodes the tooth surface, forming cavities over time. If tooth decay isn't treated, the tooth will continue to wear down, leading to toothache, sensitivity and sometimes even tooth loss.
You might have a cavity or tooth decay if:
- you have a toothache or pain when you bite down
- your tooth feels more sensitive to hot, cold and sweet food and drinks
- you can see holes or black, brown or white discolouration on the tooth surface
When you book a check-up at our dental clinic in Sydney's North Shore, we'll examine your teeth or your child's teeth for signs of decay or cavities. We may recommend a filling if a tooth needs to be repaired, or you may request white fillings for aesthetic reasons.
If you want to know more about white fillings to decide if they're the right treatment for you, call our team on (02) 9958 0400 or contact us today.
Silver fillings vs white fillings
White composite fillings aren't the only type of fillings available, but they are the most popular for their more natural appearance. A 'white' filling can be colour-matched to the rest of your teeth, so people won't even know you've had a filling. This isn't the case for older metal amalgam fillings, which are clearly visible in the mouth.
Sometimes called 'silver' fillings, most metal fillings don't contain silver, but are made from an amalgam of several metals. This includes toxic mercury, which may be accidentally swallowed if the filling gets broken. More of the tooth structure may need to be removed before a metal filling can be placed, and the procedure can take longer than for a white filling.
It used to be the case that metal amalgam fillings were considerably stronger and longer-lasting than composite white fillings, but advances in dental technology and materials mean that tooth-coloured fillings can now last for just as long. The risk of complications such as tooth sensitivity can also be reduced when choosing white fillings over silver.
What's involved in getting white composite fillings?
If you decide that a white filling is the right choice for you or your child, we'll explain what the procedure involves to help put your mind at ease and make sure you know what to expect. Placing a filling usually involves the following steps.
Numbing the tooth
Depending on how large the cavity is, we may inject local anaesthetic to numb the area around the tooth so you won't feel any pain during the treatment.
Removing decayed tissue
Our dentists will carefully remove the decayed or damaged part of the tooth, preserving as much of the natural tooth structure as possible.
Cleaning the cavity
The resulting cavity will then be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected of bacteria by applying a cleaning agent. This will be rinsed away and the cavity left to dry.
Applying the bonding agent
We'll then apply the adhesive bonding agent to the cavity, which holds the composite filling in place. This is cured (hardened) using a blue light.
Applying the filling material
We'll blend a shade of composite resin that matches your natural tooth colour and apply this to the prepared cavity. The resin is built up in several layers, each cured by a blue light before the next is applied.
Shaping the filling
When the cavity has been completely filled, we'll carefully sculpt and polish the surface so it looks and feels like a natural tooth and restore your normal bite. The time it takes to place a filling varies for each individual, but the procedure is usually completed within one hour.