Composite or plastic fillings are used to treat defects on the tooth with a tooth-colored, permanent restoration. The term plastic filling is misleading in this case, because in fact only about one-fifth of this filling material consists of plastic, the rest is a very finely ground ceramic powder. Composite fillings are more like ceramic restorations but offer some advantages over them. Thus, the material properties and fastening methods have been further optimized to improve dimensional stability and durability. Also, the processing is easier than with a feststofflichen supply of all-ceramic or metal, since the composite is arbitrarily malleable – its processing is more similar to the supply of amalgam.
How Does The Treatment Work?
To provide a hole on the tooth with a composite, the dentist must first remove caries completely. The required treatment with a drill is perceived by most patients to be very uncomfortable even with minor damage, therefore, the tooth is usually pretreated with a local anesthetic before the actual caries removal begins.
Once caries has been removed and the surface of the teeth has been cleared of staining, the dentist uses standardized color plates to select the right shade for the composite filling. This is particularly important in the visible tooth area to achieve an aesthetically pleasing result and to integrate the subsequent filling optically inconspicuous in the overall appearance of the teeth.
The tooth surface is then prepared, in which case the surrounding tooth enamel is roughened and beveled in order to enlarge the adhesion surface (the area which will later carry the composite filling) and to allow an inconspicuous restoration as far as possible. The surfaces are coated with a special adhesive and in the case of smaller defects, the composite can then be applied directly in one working step in the so-called single-layer method and cured with a special light.
For deeper or more extensive defects, a layered composite filling must be used, which is introduced in several steps. The composite is applied in several layers, which are cured one after the other. Since hardening causes the formerly liquid or viscous composite to shrink slightly, the multiple application can nevertheless achieve a form-fitting connection that reliably protects the tooth and prevents the ingress of bacteria. In addition, in a layered composite filling, the color can be optimally adapted to the natural tooth color, since the different layers have different color shades and the result is then no longer distinguishable from a natural tooth.
Then the new filling is cleaned, excess material removed and the surface polished. The composite filling is then immediately loadable, but its full hardness reaches the material only after about 24 hours.
How Long Does A Composite Filling Last?
Compared to a simple plastic filling, high-quality, modern composites offer a longer shelf life. Depending on their size, depth and position, their average lifespan is stated to be 4-6 years, but there are also many patients who use their composite fillings much longer and have no problems with it. A regular check-up with the dentist is therefore important in order to be able to recognize at an early stage, for example, when the filling margins change and thus the stability of the care deteriorates.
Can A Composite Filling Be Used On Each Tooth?
In principle, composite fillings are suitable for every tooth, not only in the area of the incisors (where the masticatory pressure and thus the load on the filling is the lowest) but also for corner and molar teeth. However, they are only limitedly suitable for large-area restorations in the area of the molars since the forces occurring during chewing are considerably greater and cannot be compensated to the same extent by the cured composite as by ceramic or metallic inlays. So if you need a large-area supply of occlusal surfaces in the molar area, you should better choose an inlay that offers a longer service life – but is also considerably more expensive and more expensive.