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All About Composite Filling: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & More

Do you have a cavity or damaged tooth that needs repair? You may have heard of composite filling, a tooth-colored solution that can restore your smile to its natural beauty. In this blog post, we’ll explore what composite filling is, its benefits, and the procedure involved – all to help you make an informed decision about your dental health.

Key Takeaways

  • Composite fillings are a combination of plastic resin and powdered glass, used to restore teeth’s appearance and function.

  • Benefits include natural look, tooth preservation & versatility in both restorative & cosmetic dental procedures.

  • Cost varies depending on dentist fees, size/location of cavity & type of composite material. Insurance coverage may be available for certain categories.

Understanding Composite Fillings

A close-up of a tooth with a composite filling

Dental fillings are a common solution for repairing decayed or damaged teeth. Among the various types of dental fillings available, composite fillings have gained popularity due to their ability to blend seamlessly with the natural tooth color and structure, while also preserving tooth enamel. Composed of a mixture of plastic resin and powdered glass, composite fillings help to sustain tooth structure and can be utilized on front teeth to remedy damage or chips.

Composite fillings are a great option for those looking to restore their teeth to their original state after experiencing tooth loss.

What are composite fillings made of?

The materials used in composite fillings consist of a combination of plastic resin and powdered glass that contribute to disease control by repairing damaged teeth and preventing further decay.

This unique composition allows composite fillings to:

  • Adhere to the tooth structure, including the tooth root

  • Provide strength and insulation against temperature alterations

  • Restore the tooth’s appearance and function.

How do composite fillings work?

By directly bonding to the tooth structure, composite fillings offer strength and insulation against temperature changes. This bonding guarantees the filling’s stability and functionality during daily activities such as chewing and drinking.

Proper care of your composite fillings is paramount to ensure their longevity. This involves treating them like your natural teeth – regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste, daily flossing, and routine dental checkups.

Benefits of Choosing Composite Fillings

A person smiling with a composite filling in their mouth

There are several advantages to choosing composite fillings over other dental restoration options such as amalgam fillings. These benefits include their natural appearance, preservation of tooth structure, and versatility in both restorative and cosmetic dental procedures.


One of the major advantages of composite fillings is their aesthetic appeal. Unlike amalgam fillings, which have a silver or metallic appearance, composite fillings can be customized to match the color of your natural teeth, creating a more seamless look.

This makes them an ideal choice for those who desire a more natural-looking dental restoration, especially for their back teeth.

Tooth Preservation

Composite fillings offer the following benefits:

  • They preserve more of the natural tooth structure

  • They bond directly to the tooth, requiring less removal of the natural tooth structure

  • They contribute to the maintenance of the strength and soundness of the tooth.

Additionally, composite fillings help seal the tooth, preventing bacteria from infiltrating and causing further damage, such as an abscess.


Composite fillings are highly versatile, as they can be used to address a variety of dental issues such as:

  • Cavities

  • Cracks

  • Chips

  • Gaps in teeth

This makes them a popular choice for patients seeking a solution that caters to both restorative and cosmetic dental needs.

The Composite Filling Procedure

A dentist applying a composite filling to a tooth

The composite filling procedure involves a series of steps, collectively known as composite filling procedures.

  1. Diagnosis of the issue

  2. Preparation of the tooth

  3. Application of the filling material

  4. Providing aftercare instructions for maintenance.

Diagnosis and Preparation

Dentists diagnose tooth decay and cavities through regular checkups and X-rays, which can detect decay even before it becomes visible. Once a cavity is confirmed, the dentist prepares the tooth by removing decay and cleaning the area, ensuring that the tooth is ready for the composite filling.

Application and Curing

Once the tooth is prepared, the composite filling is applied in layers. Each layer is cured using a special light, which ensures a strong bond and quick hardening of the material.

This process continues until the desired shape and thickness of the filling are achieved, providing a durable and long-lasting restoration.

Aftercare and Maintenance

Following your dentist’s aftercare instructions is key to extending the lifespan of your composite filling. These instructions might encompass:

  • Waiting for the anesthesia to wear off before chewing on the treated side

  • Refraining from hard or sticky foods for a day

  • Maintaining good oral hygiene with regular brushing and flossing

Consistent brushing and flossing are crucial for maintaining your composite filling’s condition and preventing dental plaque buildup.

Comparing Composite Fillings to Amalgam Fillings

While both composite and amalgam fillings serve to repair decayed or damaged teeth, there are noticeable differences between the two types of dental restorations, including material composition, appearance, and durability.

Composite fillings are made of a mixture of plastic and glass, and are designed to create a strong bond when applied to the tooth.

Material Composition

A comparison of a composite filling and an amalgam fillingComposite fillings are made from a combination of plastic resin and ceramic compounds, while amalgam fillings consist of a mixture of metals, including mercury, silver, tin, and copper.

This difference in material composition plays a significant role in the overall appearance and durability of the filling.


As mentioned earlier, composite fillings closely resemble the natural tooth color, allowing them to blend seamlessly with the surrounding tooth structure.

In contrast, amalgam fillings have a more noticeable silver or metallic appearance, which may be less desirable for those seeking a discreet dental restoration.

Durability and Longevity

In terms of durability and longevity, composite fillings typically last around 7 years, while amalgam fillings can last up to 15 years. However, both types require proper care to maximize their lifespan, including good oral hygiene practices and regular dental checkups.

Cost and Insurance Coverage for Composite Fillings

The cost of composite fillings can vary greatly, depending on factors such as the location and extent of the cavity, as well as the dentist’s fees and the type of composite material used.

Insurance coverage for composite fillings may also differ, depending on the patient’s plan and the nature of the procedure.

Factors Affecting Cost

Various factors such as the dentist’s fees, the cavity’s size and location, and the type of composite material used can affect the cost of composite fillings. Hence, discussing these aspects with your dentist before the procedure is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of the total cost.

Insurance Coverage

Insurance coverage for composite fillings can vary depending on the patient’s plan and whether the filling is considered a cosmetic or restorative procedure.

It’s recommended to consult with your specific insurance provider for further details regarding coverage for composite fillings.

Common Questions About Composite Fillings

To help address some common concerns related to composite fillings, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and straightforward answers based on the information provided throughout this blog post.

Can composite fillings be whitened?

Unfortunately, composite fillings cannot be whitened like natural teeth, as they are constructed of a plastic-based material that does not respond to whitening treatments.

Therefore, it’s recommended to undergo teeth whitening before having a composite filling placed to ensure a consistent appearance.

How long do composite fillings last?

Composite fillings can last around 7 years with proper care, but their durability can be extended through good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups.

Factors such as the type of composite filling used, the size of the filling, and the patient’s oral hygiene practices can also influence the lifespan of the restoration.

How to care for composite fillings?

Caring for composite fillings involves maintaining good oral hygiene, avoiding hard or sticky foods, and attending regular dental checkups and cleanings.

Additionally, it’s important to wait until the anesthesia has worn off before chewing on the affected side of your mouth and to avoid consuming hot foods and beverages immediately after the procedure.


In conclusion, composite fillings offer a versatile, aesthetically pleasing, and tooth-preserving solution for repairing decayed or damaged teeth. With proper care and maintenance, they can last for several years and provide a natural-looking restoration. By understanding the differences between composite and amalgam fillings, as well as the factors affecting cost and insurance coverage, you can make an informed decision about the best dental restoration option for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do composite filling last?

On average, composite fillings last about 5-7 years depending on factors such as location in the mouth.

What is composite filling?

A composite filling is a dental filling made of a coloured resin material, designed to match the colour of your natural tooth. Also known as resin fillings, white fillings or tooth-coloured fillings, these are a common form of treatment for repairing teeth.

Composite fillings are a great option for restoring teeth that have been damaged by decay, fractures, or wear and tear. They are strong and durable, and can last for many years with proper care.

What are the disadvantages of composite fillings?

The disadvantages of composite fillings include being more complex and expensive to place, having a shorter lifespan, and potentially leading to sensitivity in deep fillings.

Is composite filling good for teeth?

Composite fillings are a great choice for preserving your teeth; they protect the enamel from erosion, maintain the tooth’s structure, blend naturally with the surrounding teeth and prevent tooth loss.

What is the main difference between composite and amalgam fillings?

The main difference between composite and amalgam fillings is their material composition; composite fillings are made from a combination of plastic resin and ceramic compounds, while amalgam fillings consist of a mixture of metals.

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