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What is a Composite Filling?

Author: cmcgovern Posted: January 7th, 2020 Category:

If you need a filling, a composite resin filling can offer you a more affordable, natural-looking alternative to a metal amalgam filling. 

If you’ve ever had a cavity, you’re probably familiar with the ordeal of getting a filling. But cavities aren’t the only reason that you might need a filling. Whenever a tooth gets cracked, damaged, or worn down from nail biting, a filling will modify your broken or decayed tooth to ensure it can resume all of its normal functions.

Types of Fillings

Fillings vary based on the material used to fill the damaged tooth. Two common varieties are metal amalgam fillings — which are usually made with a combination of silver and metal alloys — and composite fillings. Composite fillings are made from a mixture of hard, plastic-based materials that can be easily colored to resemble a natural tooth. Because of their natural appearance and more affordable prices, composite fillings are increasingly being used as an alternative to silver amalgam. 

The Dental Filling Procedure

Filling a tooth requires that the decayed parts of your tooth be removed from the tooth before your filling sets in. For this operation, your dentist or technician will usually use a local anaesthetic before scraping out the unwanted bit of your tooth with a drill or another operative instrument. 

Before your filling is placed, your dentist will thoroughly clean the area to make sure no bacteria gets trapped under the filling. Then, your composite resin filling is applied to the tooth in soft layers, which are hardened by a special light. The light rapidly cures the composite resin, making the material a similar durability as a real human tooth. If you’re worried your composite filling might yellow — especially if you drink a lot of coffee or tea — ask your dentist if they can apply a clear plastic coating to preserve the filling’s tooth-like color. 

Once your composite filling is installed and polished, your tooth can resume its normal function with all the aesthetics of a natural human tooth. No filling is permanently immune to wear and tear, but your composite filling will generally last for no fewer than five years unless the filling endures some very unusual wear and tear. 

The Advantages of Composite Fillings

Compared to other materials such as silver amalgam, composite fillings can serve many uniquely helpful purposes. Since your composite filling is made of an easily moldable resin, it tightly bonds to fit your existing tooth structure. This tight bond means that this type of filling insulates your sensitive underlying tooth more than metal fillings. 

Because composite fillings are tooth-colored, they’re also often the first choice for filling damaged areas in prominent and visible teeth, like chips in your front teeth or canines. And because composite fillings are more malleable than metal, they can be used for a wider variety of tooth repairs, from chips to cavities to cracks. 

As far as cavities are concerned, composite fillings are a better option if the underlying tooth is sensitive. Composite fillings don’t require as much tooth matter to be extracted while excavating the decayed matter, since they fit into a smaller hole. 


Despite the many advantages of composite fillings, it’s important to remember that the best filling is no filling at all. Prevention is the most effective method for keeping your teeth healthy. Espire Dental is one of the most trusted dental care providers in Colorado and can help you with both prevention and repair — through regular dental cleanings or fillings. Whether you think you need a composite filling — or just want to avoid getting a filling in the first place — contact one of our experts at Espire Dental and schedule a consultation today.