In the past, teeth were most commonly repaired with amalgam (silver) fillings or gold restorations. Thanks to advances in modern dental materials and techniques, teeth can be restored with a more aesthetic and natural appearance. There are different types of cosmetic fillings currently available. The type used will depend on the location of the tooth and the amount of tooth structure that needs to be repaired.
The simplest form of ‘white filling’ is called a Composite. They are made of a composite resin which is a plastic material mixed with small glass or quartz particles and are tooth coloured, and usually contains some sort of light sensitive agent. These light cured composites are bonded directly into or onto the tooth. For this reason, they are often referred to as “bonding”. These materials come in a variety of shades so that they will match the colour of your own teeth. These composite materials have been specifically designed to actually withstand the normal chewing forces.
In order to bond a filling material to your tooth it is first necessary to remove decay, prepare the tooth and then to prepare the enamel and dentin. After placement, composites are hardened by shining an intense light on them for a specified period of time, usually around 40 seconds
These fillings are instantly hardened by the light; there is no waiting time when you leave the practice.
Indirect Composite/Porcelain Inlay or Onlay.
The other type of ‘white filling’ is called an inlay or onlay. These fillings are fabricated from porcelain and are usually placed on the back teeth. In order to increase their strength and longevity, they are fabricated in the laboratory and then bonded into position in the office. This is a two visit procedure rather than the one visit required to place a composite filling. However, when it comes to strength and cosmetics, the extra time and expense is well worth it!