Dental fillings

What are white dental fillings?

White dental fillings are typically composed of composite resin (a type of hard plastic). Composite restorations can be bonded onto teeth to replace missing tooth structure such as in a decayed tooth or broken tooth or can be bonded onto an existing tooth and shaped for cosmetic purposes.

The advantages of white dental fillings

  • They are a comparatively cheap option compared to tooth restoration options (see onlays and crowns).
  • It is a conservative treatment option. This means that we are able to conserve the maximum amount of tooth structure. With an eye to the future, this means that when the white dental filling needs to be replaced all the treatment options for restoring a tooth are still available to you.
  • It is a fairly quick treatment option meaning that results can be seen the same appointment.
  • The colour of the filling can be matched to your tooth colour.

The disadvantages of white dental fillings

  • They must be placed in layers and set by a blue light.
  • When placing composite fillings, the area where the tooth is being restored needs to be kept dry, as they are harder to place than silver fillings. The duration of the treatment takes longer than other treatment options and is more technique sensitive.
  • The material is weaker than porcelain. Therefore depending on the size of the restoration, a stronger material may be required.

Considerations

  • We see excellent long term results for white dental fillings when the fillings are less than half the size of the tooth.
  • We are comfortable placing white dental fillings up to two thirds of the size of the tooth.
  • If a filling is larger than two thirds, we would consider a stronger material such as porcelain or gold (see onlays and crowns).

Which are the safest fillings to have?

Most of our patients now prefer to have composite restorations. However, sometimes we get asked about the safety of silver or amalgam fillings. Our usual response is that there is no strong scientific evidence to suggest any adverse effects from amalgam fillings (World Health Organisation). The FDA (US Food and Drugs Administration) has found no association between dental amalgam use and adverse health effects (read more). However, given the controversy involved with amalgam fillings we place white fillings as a rule of thumb.

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