white fillings

‘compacted tooth-coloured material used to occupy a cavity or space’

a dental filling is used to replace part of a tooth that has been lost either through neglect, lifestyle or accidental damage.

the most common reasons for needing a filling are

tooth decay

the most common cause of fillings. 

plaque forms when bacteria feed on the sugars and starches left on your teeth by food or drink. the acids in plaque soften and dissolve tooth enamel , causing tiny holes which then grow bigger and lead to sensitivity and pain.

acid erosion

the protective enamel coating of teeth can get worn away by acids in certain foods and drinks or with some medical conditions like reflux or hiatus hernia.

cracks/chips

broken or chipped teeth usually result from injury, or after eating something very hard. 

this in turn may expose the inner parts of the tooth and lead to erosion over time.

abrasion/attrition

teeth will wear over time, perhaps through aggressive toothbrushing or tooth grinding (bruxism).

there are 3 different types of white filling. 

composite, glass ionomer and compomer.

composite restorations

these are the most commonly placed white fillings. 

the resin is a versatile, clinically proven, successful and aesthetic material. 

they are ‘direct’ restorations ie done on site. 

the procedure is relatively quick and is one of the most cost-effective cosmetic dental procedures.

shades of composite are chosen to match the tooth colour.  

to achieve a natural look typically two or more shades are chosen to build up the dentine and then the enamel shades as no tooth is one colour. the tooth near the gum is darker, whereas the area of the tooth at the biting surface is more translucent and lighter.

the composite is bonded to the tooth tissue with the recommended adhesive, hand sculpted into the desired shape, hardened and polished to achieve the best aesthetics.

glass ionomer restorations

the beneficial characteristic of this material is that it sticks to the tooth surface well and can also release fluoride which helps to strengthen the tooth tissue. 

in deep restorations this filling may be placed underneath composite restorations to protect the nerve tissue and minimise the possibility of future problems, such as root canal treatment.

however it does not have the same aesthetics as composites and tends not to be as strong.

compomers

this material is a fusion of the above two materials. it is less commonly used but still has a place in some cases where aesthetics are required but strength is not as important.

pros

  1. to place a white filling requires less tooth to be drilled.
  2. they look great.
  3. they can be repaired as opposed to replaced.

cons.

  1. they take longer to place.
  2. can be sensitive immediately after placement.
  3. will last for years, but not as long as a gold filling