Created in the mid-1980s, tooth colored composite resin fillings have come a long way since their inception. While it was once brittle and highly noticeable, modern composite is more durable and realistic than ever before, allowing dentists to create seamless restorations that stand the test of time. Here are three ways composite resin fillings have improved over the years and why you should talk with your dentist about using them the next time you need a filling.
1. Better Bonding
Because of the lack of readily available high-power imagery decades ago, researchers had a limited understanding of the delicate microstructure of the teeth, which led to composites that didn't bond as well as the versions available today.
While dentists could use composites to fill cavities, because of their structural imperfections and tendency to leak, they weren't heavily used for the edges or fronts of the teeth, where most people requested them anyway.
However, fast-forward to today's state-of-the-art dental environment, and composite resin bonding is considered the standard in many dental practices. After the tooth is cleaned and dried, a gentle acidic compound is brushed onto the teeth to microscopically roughen the surface of the dental enamel.
Next, composite resins are piped into place, shaped, and cured instantly with a UV light, and the repair bonds directly to dental enamel. New composites are even capable of bonding to the softer dentin, which is helpful in instances where the surface of the tooth has been chipped or compromised.
Improved bonding also helps dentists to preserve more of the natural tooth when using composites to fill cavities. Traditional amalgam fillings required undercuts to hold the filling in place, but composite fillings don't require this added step, which helps to maintain the structural integrity of the tooth.
2. Improved Appearance
One of the most obvious differences in modern composites over legacy versions is the fact that newer resins are available in an incredible range of color shades, opacity strengths, and even sheens, giving dentists the chance to improve the outcome in a more controlled way than they could even a few years ago.
Resin varieties are also available in shades designed to meld with tooth shades that have been altered by certain lifestyle habits, such as smoking or frequent teeth whitening, so the repairs look completely natural. For instance, if your teeth contain a slightly cooler hue due to your last whitening treatment, your dentist can use a BL shade, which is a color line completely designated for people who have had their teeth professionally whitened.
To put this difference in perspective, dentists only had four color shades to choose from in the 1970s, which often led to obvious restorations. Older resins were also difficult for dentists to polish effectively, which created surface imperfections that could be detected from different angles.
Today, dentists use special shade guides to carefully determine the right color of bonding material to use, and then blend and polish the material carefully to restore teeth to their original glory.
3. Increased Longevity
In addition to being almost invisible to the naked eye and strong enough for bite surfaces, modern composites are also designed to flex slightly with the rest of your teeth, which helps to improve their lifespan.
In fact, modern composite resin repairs are capable of lasting as long as amalgams, with a recent 17-year study showing that 76% of fillings were still in place. Research has shown that UV curing has improved the lifespan of these fillings, largely in part because the repair has the chance to permanently harden before the patient leaves the office.
When it comes to helping families to improve their overall dental health and hygiene, nobody cares more than our team here at Kids of OZ Dental. With our experienced dentists and a staff that takes pride in making the dental care experience fun for kids, your entire family is sure to feel right at home. To learn more about our office, stop by anytime or give us a call to schedule an appointment.