Dental fillings have evolved over many decades and exist in many different varieties to suit various filling needs. Amalgam is one such filling material which existed for more than 150 years although it has several downsides such as being unaesthetic, failing to make the tooth strong and having mercury as one of its ingredients. As a result, dental practitioners had to come up with a new form of filling known as the ‘white composite filling’ that has been in existence for almost two decades since its introduction. However, as with any dental filling, white composite filling also has its advantages and disadvantages which is the topic of discussion in this article.
Overview of white composite filling
White composite filling is composed of several different ingredients and these include an organic polymer known as bisphenol-aglycidyl methacrylate (BIS-GMA) and inorganic particles such as quartz, borosilicate glass and lithium aluminum silicate. As its name suggest, the composite filling is white in appearance and is highly adhesive to the tooth when it is properly applied.
When discussing the advantages of composite white filling, it should be done in relation to other types of fillings such as amalgam, gold, porcelain…etc. However, for this discussion, it will be compared with the potential advantages and disadvantages of amalgam, which was the most common filling to be used prior to the introduction of white composite filling.
The advantages of white composite fillings
One of the main advantages of using composite white filling is its white color. This would mean that the filling would become invisible once it is placed inside the tooth as both appear in the same color. Furthermore, the white color of the composite filling should last throughout its lifetime and therefore discoloration should not be a problem. This is in contrast to the amalgam, which is highly prone to discoloration and therefore not aesthetically pleasing.
Another advantage is the strength it gives to the tooth once it is placed inside. Thus, practitioners believe that a tooth will be much stronger than before once it is filled with white composite compared to when it is filled with amalgam. At the same time, the practitioners can adapt a conservative approach during the filling without having to remove or drill a relatively large area of the tooth, which might lead to fracturing, or chipping of the tooth.
Apart from the above advantages, the white composite filling also has the added advantage of being able to use the tooth soon after its placement inside the tooth. This is possible because the composite stiffens in response to a light beam directed at the filling during the procedure.
When it comes to disadvantages, the lifetime of the white composite filling has been a problem since its introduction. However, with evolving technology, the lifetime of the composite filling has gradually increased and should not be a problem in the future. When compared with amalgam, white composite filling is more expensive and requires more time and preparation of the cavity surface on the part of the dental practitioner.
At the same time, unless proper amounts of white composite is used for a specific filling; it can damage the nerve endings and therefore give rise to increased tooth sensitivity in the vicinity.
When comparing the advantages and disadvantages of using white composite filling, it is apparent that there is room for improvement and for the time being, dental practitioners will assess the filling requirement and will offer the patient the best possible options according to their opinion.