cracked-teehThe concept of a “filling” is replacing and restoring your tooth structure that is damaged due to decay or fracture with a material. Traditionally, dentists have used metal amalgam fillings for this purpose. However, metal fillings can lead to many problems, including cracked teeth. This is because the metal is not bonded to the tooth – it is held in place by the mere fact that the inner portion of the filling is larger than the outer portion. As pressure is applied to the filling, that pressure is translated into pressure to the sides of the tooth (which have been thinned or hollowed away to accommodate the metal filling), and thus, cracks form, and teeth eventually chip and break.

However, there is now an alternative to metal fillings: composite bonding. As the name indicates, composite material, either a plastic or resin, is bonded to an existing tooth. Unlike veneers or crowns, composite bonding removes little, if any, of the original tooth. And with these fillings, you can eliminate the dark, black appearance in your teeth, as well as reduce cracking or chipping.

White Fillings versus Silver Amalgam Fillings:

  • White fillings bond to the tooth; they strengthen the tooth by restoring most of its original shape. Silver amalgams, on the other hand, weaken the teeth and make them more susceptible to breaking. Broken teeth can be very expensive to replace; white amalgam can actually save time and money in the long run.
  • White filling composites are preferred by most patients. This is due to the natural color, strength and overall appearance and feel. Composites are naturally more comfortable.
  • Hot and cold sensitivity is greatly reduced with composite material compared to the silver/mercury amalgams.
  • Restorations with composites require less removal of tooth, less structure to place than those with amalgams and especially with new cavities.  Dramatically smaller holes are needed with a composite.
  • White fillings are healthier because no traces of mercury are used, unlike silver amalgams.

Bonding is a common solution for:

  • Fixing or repairing chipped or cracked teeth
  • Reducing unsightly gaps or spaces between teeth
  • Hiding discoloration or faded areas on the tooth’s surface
  • Improving the appearance of your teeth and enhance your smile.

Composite bonding has many advantages:

  • It is a quick process, which typically lasts less than one hour.
  • It does not reduce the tooth’s original structure and is relatively inexpensive.
  • Composite resins come in many different shades and provide better matching of shades to the natural color of your teeth.
  • Composite bonds, however, are not as durable and long-lasting as veneers and crowns and may need to be re-touched or replaced in the future.

Note: composite bonds stain more easily and therefore require proper care and regular cleaning. In order to ensure the longest possible duration of the bonding, composites should be brushed and flossed daily. Common staining elements include coffee, tea, tobacco, foods and candy.