What Are They?
Tooth colored fillings are also referred to as composites, because they are composed of a complex composite of plastic and zirconia/silica. Composites were introduced in the 1960’s, and have undergone continual improvements in durability, color stability, material handling qualities, and esthetics. Tooth colored fillings are actually bonded to teeth compared to silver / amalgam fillings, which are not.
Fillings are considered one type of tooth restoration. Other restorations include inlays, onlay, veneers and crowns.
How Do They Look?
Tooth colored filling material comes in a great number of colors (shades), and are matched to your individual tooth color. Typically, a different type of material is used for front and back teeth. The materials used for front teeth have a high shine; whereas, the materials for back teeth are designed for strength — both look great! It’s nice that if you have a filling it can be virtually undetectable.
I believe all dentistry is cosmetic.
It is difficult to imagine that anyone would ask for a something that didn’t look great. I don’t use silver fillings today, and haven’t since 1986. In my own mouth I can see every tooth, and I want them to all look great for me, even if nobody else ever does. I just can’t restore teeth that function superbly, yet lack the esthetics we all want.
How Long Do They Last?
Tooth colored fillings now are harder and more durable than silver / amalgam fillings. A small filling could conceivably last your lifetime, and larger fillings can be expected to last many years. The factors that determine the lifespan of a particular filling include: the tooth (molars take more force than bicuspids), the size of the filling relative to the tooth (smaller fillings will usually be more durable than larger fillings), and how teeth are cleaned and maintained daily.
How Should They Feel?
A new filling should feel natural, like your other teeth. After the anesthesia has worn away and you can feel your teeth and bite again, you should not notice anything particularly different. It should be smooth and comfortable.
You can eat on tooth colored fillings right away (as soon as anesthesia is gone) compared to silver / amalgam fillings, which you cannot.
If you detect a noticeable sensation when biting or chewing, this usually means the bite is too tall. Unlike silver / amalgam filling material that is softer, and will wear away or chip, the bite on tooth colored filling material will not improve with time. If the bite remains too tall a tooth can also become temperature sensitive. Please don’t hesitate to call if your filling requires an adjustment.