Composite Fillings

Many people will eventually need dental fillings, whether due to injuries, accidents, poor oral hygiene, or aging. Composite fillings offer a safe, long-lasting option for dental fillings. Dr Joseph Goodman's clinic in Beverly Hills has professionals with extensive oral care and aesthetic restoration training. If you are suffering from tooth decay, or have cracked teeth we are ready to help.

What Are Composite Fillings?

Composite fillings are dental restorative materials made of synthetic resin. They are multifaceted and can be used to fix fractured and decaying teeth. They can also be used for tooth restoration procedures, like crown and veneer applications.

Composite fillings are durable and can withstand mild pressure caused by continuous chewing stress. Additionally, they are highly resistant to cavity formation and resemble natural teeth.

When Composite Fillings are Necessary

Composite dental fillings have been a treatment option for individuals with cavities for decades. When a tooth decays, bacteria create holes inside it, and the deterioration progressively becomes deeper, eventually reaching the tooth pulp and, eventually, the jawbone. If left untreated, tooth decay could lead to infection and tooth loss.

After removing the decayed part of the tooth, the dentist fills the remaining holes with composite material to prevent further decay. Composite fillings are malleable. This enables the dentist to shape it to match the tooth with minimal preparation required.

Below are some additional instances in which composite fillings could be recommended:

Where A Filling Is Broken Or Lost

Dental patients who have previously had metal or amalgam fillings and would like a more aesthetically pleasing replacement can use composite filling.

Where The Enamel Has Deteriorated Or Has Been Lost

Teeth grinding can wear down tooth surfaces, making them look uneven and unappealing. Your dentist can propose composite fillings that repair and rebuild your teeth structure.

When The Teeth Have Chipped, Cracked, Or Fractured

Composite fillings are a viable option for repairing cracks and fractures in teeth that sustain structural damage without compromising the health of the pulp.

Any circumstance mentioned above can cause symptoms such as sensitivity or tooth pain. Patients should be alert to these warning signs and consult a dentist promptly. Early intervention assists in preventing the damage from becoming worse and making a composite filling restoration easier.

Types of Materials Used in Composite Fillings

There are two main categories of materials used in composite fillings, though the contents can vary. They Include:


Fillers in composite fillings are small silicon-based particles, often quartz and glass. Incorporating fillers improves their durability, tensile strength, and toughness.

The final repair tends to be stronger where the filler quantity is higher. Surfaces with smaller particles have smoother surfaces. Many dental composite fillings are made of nanohybrids, which combine nanoparticles with smaller filler particles.

When the proportion of smaller to larger filler particles is right, the strength and appearance should be ideal, and the translucency will resemble that of actual teeth. However, some nanohybrids do not have the right amount of nanoparticles.


The term "matrix" describes the substance where the filler substances are suspended. It is usually a synthetic resin known as bisphenol A glycidyl methacrylate or, more frequently, Bowen's resin.

This matrix begins as a fluid, but when exposed to blue light, it solidifies to a consistency similar to that of a real tooth. Composite fillings get their color from pigments. You can choose from various pigments that complement the color of your teeth or those around them. Patients need to understand that composite resins cannot be bleached. Therefore, the initial color of the filling will remain the same over time.

Other Additives

Composite fillings also contain other substances. Combining these in different ways yields specific results based on the patient's and dentist's preferences. The following are more ingredients found in composite fillings:

  • Polymerization initiators
  • Stabilizers
  • Coupling agents

The Composite Filling Procedure

The following are the steps involved in the composite filling procedure:

The Initial Evaluation

The initial step in receiving a composite filling is having your dentist perform an assessment. To detect cavities or other signs of decay, the dentist might perform X-rays at your scheduled dental checkup in addition to a visual examination of the teeth. If the dentist finds a cavity or an old filling is deteriorating, they can propose a composite filling to strengthen the tooth's structure and stop further decay.

Numbing the Region

The dental professional will use a numbing agent on the region around the damaged tooth before filling. Using local anesthesia guarantees you will have minimal or no pain throughout the treatment. The dentist will start filling your cavities once the anesthetic takes effect.

Decay Removal and Tooth Preparation

After numbing the affected area, the dentist can use specialized dental equipment to extract the decaying tooth part. The tooth must be prepared before placing the composite filling to ensure a stable and sanitary foundation. Composite fillings protect more of the original tooth enamel than typical amalgam restorations, which are aggressive.

Bonding The Composite Resin

After preparing the tooth, your dentist applies a dental bonding agent to its surface. The agent ensures the composite resin adheres tightly to your tooth's structure. The dentist then coats the prepped region with tooth-colored composite resin. Every layer is meticulously applied and cured by a special dentistry light, solidifying the resin and increasing its durability.

Shaping and Sculpting

Your dentist will mold the composite filler to blend with your tooth's natural contour. This artistic procedure guarantees that the filling will blend in with your natural teeth, making it almost impossible to tell it's there. The meticulous contouring restores the tooth's function and makes biting and chewing easier.

Polishing The Composite Filling

After the dentist shapes the filling, they will polish it to make it look more natural. Polishing your filling can help extend its lifespan and prevent it from getting stained. After the procedure, your dentist will assess the alignment of your bite and perform any required corrections.

Final Examination and Recovery

The dentist will perform a last examination to ensure the composite filling appears and performs as intended before closing the session. They will provide aftercare instructions, like suggestions for maintaining good oral hygiene and temporary dietary restrictions.

Benefits of Composite Fillings

Composite fillings have several benefits, including:

The Filling Procedure Is Less Invasive

Other dental filling options require creating substantial space to make room for placement, which can require removing substantial amounts of tooth structure. The extensive drilling weakens the tooth's structure and may cause long-term breaking and chipping.

Composite fillings mitigate this problem because the process requires only minor drilling to create a bonding surface. When glued to the natural tooth, they create an outer protective layer that shields the sensitive regions of the tooth and prevents additional harm.

Fast Bonding and Hardening

Dentists use a special light to cure fillings after placing them on teeth. This shortens the bonding period by causing the filling to harden. Since the bonding process takes less time, patients often only need one appointment with their dentist to get their teeth fixed.

They Are Adaptable

Composite fillings are more widely used in dentistry than amalgam fillings. They are commonly used in cosmetic and restorative dental procedures and are the preferred treatment for cracked, decayed, and damaged teeth. These fillings are also great for filling spaces between teeth.

They Make the Tooth Structure Stronger

Tooth decay typically reduces the structural integrity and longevity of a tooth. Composite fillings offer additional support for teeth by bonding to the existing structure. When the bonding agent hardens, it creates strong teeth that will withstand more pressure.

Decrease in Tooth Sensitivity

Damaged teeth become increasingly sensitive to temperature changes, making having cold or hot foods and drinks intolerable. Composite fillings can address this problem since the resin material bonds to the tooth, shielding it from temperature fluctuations.

However, patients with recently placed composite fillings could continue to feel some slight irritation, which eventually goes away.

Composite Fillings are Repairable

Composite fillings can degrade with time due to normal wear and tear or accidental injury. Rest assured, they can be quickly and painlessly fixed with a simple operation, restoring your smile. Your dentist can clean the affected area and reapply the composite material to fix the issue.

In addition, repairing the teeth may be less expensive than replacing them.

Possible Risks and Complications

Composite fillings are commonly used to repair teeth that have been damaged or decayed. However, patients must know the potential risks of this procedure. One possible risk is dental sensitivity, which occurs as the composite material contracts and expands in response to temperature changes, resulting in pain and discomfort in the tooth.

Another factor to consider is the potential for composite fillings to fracture over time, especially if considerable force is applied while grinding or chewing. Consequently, additional dental operations can be needed to replace or repair the filling.

Some people may also be at risk of experiencing an allergic reaction to the substances used in the fillings, which can cause oral swelling and pain.

Moreover, research has indicated that resin-based substances utilized in composite dental fillings can emit harmful compounds that could harm oral health, raising worries about the potential cytotoxicity.

When evaluating the potential health risks of composite fillings, it is important to consider certain factors. These include the materials used, the effectiveness of the curing process and the dentist's skill level. Composite fillings are a viable option, but patients should consult their dentist about both the advantages and risks of the procedure before deciding to receive them.

The Cost of a Composite Filling Procedure

Composite dental fillings are a relatively cheap and highly efficient dental restoration method. On average, composites cost between $200 and $450 per tooth. However, the actual cost will depend on various factors. These include:

  • The severity of the decay—Larger areas of damage require more work, which increases the cost
  • Damage location—Molar fillings are usually more costly because they are larger and placed in more hard-to-reach places
  • If sedation is necessary—For most people, surgery can be completed with only local anesthetic. However, sedation could be required in patients who have phobia or severe anxiety. This will inevitably raise the costs of procedures.

Do Insurance Providers Cover Composite Fillings?

Composite fillings are considered non-cosmetic procedures. This means an insurance company can cover some of the treatment's costs. Dental insurance policies are many and often have unique coverages. Fortunately, your dentist's financial coordinator can give you an accurate estimate of coverage and the out-of-pocket costs.

Follow-up Care

Many dentists advise making a few easy changes for the first twenty-four hours in addition to long-term at-home care tips. With proper care, composite fillings will last over five years. You can consider the following tips during your follow-up care:

  • Give Yourself Some Time Before Eating

Even though you feel okay, you should not eat until the anesthetic agents have completely worn off. Otherwise, as you chew, you could accidentally injure soft tissues.

  • Eat the Right Foods

Your dentist will likely recommend soft foods on the first day after any dental procedure, such as composite dental fillings. This could help you avoid unnecessary pain, as there could be inflammation and soreness for a few hours after the surgery. Consuming food or beverage that is extremely cold or hot can cause sensitivity issues. You should keep foods and drinks close to your body's temperature during the first day.

Although there are no limitations, once the dental procedure is completed, it is advisable to reduce the intake of acidic and sugary foods. These foods can raise your chances of developing dental decay and cavities. You should also be cautious when eating sticky, very hard, or crunchy foods because they can damage the fillings.

  • Avoid Stain-Causing Foods

Composite dental fillings can discolor if exposed to specific chemicals or foods. If your composite fillings are visible, you can avoid taking foods likely to discolor them. These include the following:

  1. Tea, coffee, and dark beverages
  2. Red wine
  3. Balsamic vinegar
  4. Berries and beets
  5. Artificial food colors

Tobacco usage can also cause discoloration of dental work and teeth. Tooth whitening products and treatments are ineffective on composite dental fillings. Therefore, if discoloration occurs, you should consult your dentist.

  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

Daily flossing and brushing are necessary for optimum oral health and could be resumed on the day of the procedure. You can clean the affected area thoroughly and gently with a soft-bristled brush. A warm, salty water rinse can help relieve irritation and neutralize dangerous bacteria if it is still painful or sore.

If you have composite fillings, you should avoid using mouthwash containing alcohol as it can weaken the fillings over time. It is also important to schedule a dental cleaning and exam every 6 months.

  • Break Bad Habits

Excessive force applied to composite fillings increases the risk of damage, possibly requiring early repairs or replacement. The best way to avoid this injury is to avoid chewing on ice or any other hard object. Chronic teeth grinding, or bruxism could also harm your dental work.

The Longevity of Composite Fillings

Research studies indicate that composite fillings usually have an average lifespan of 5 to 10 years. However, several factors, like the filling's size and position, the biting force applied to the filling, and the patient's dental hygiene practices, might affect the lifespan of composite fillings. Composite fillings placed in high-stress regions or subjected to frequent grinding can also deteriorate more quickly.

Composite fillings' main materials are plastic and ceramic or glass particles. Although composite fillings are generally considered safe, concerns have been raised over their potential toxicity due to the inclusion of bisphenol A (BPA) and other potentially harmful components. Even though the amount of bisphenol A (BPA) in composite dental fillings is usually insignificant, the chemical has been scientifically linked to several health problems.

Composite fillings must be free of BPA, heavy metals, and other toxins for biocompatibility and safety. Patients should discuss any concerns they have regarding the material used for their composite fillings with their dentists to ensure they are obtaining the safest and most appropriate choice for their dental health.

FAQs About Composite Fillings

Below are some frequently asked questions about composite dental fillings.

Can Composite Fillings Cause Health Issues?

Composite dental fillings are popular dental materials for repairing damaged or decaying teeth. They have no known negative effects or potential health risks, making them harmless and readily accepted by the body. This means those who might be allergic to particular substances or chemicals can consider them a good option. Extensive research has confirmed the biocompatibility of these materials, making them a safe choice for dental restorations.

What are the Disadvantages of Using Composite Fillings?

Composite fillings are a popular choice for restoring teeth but have disadvantages. Compared to porcelain or amalgam, these fillings have a shorter lifespan. Research shows that composite fillings can last for 5 to 10 years before needing to be changed after that period.

It is also possible for a patient to have postoperative hypersensitivity after the composite filling procedure. Additionally, consuming tea, coffee, or other things that stain can change the composite's color. If you have any concerns regarding tooth color, a dentist can apply a transparent plastic coating on the composite material to prevent any color changes.

Which Material Is Considered The Safest For Dental Fillings?

Various options are available when selecting the safest material for tooth fillings. Amalgam is a material that is regularly used for its durability and strength. However, some worry that the trace amounts of mercury in amalgam fillings could adversely affect human health. Fortunately, studies have established that amalgam fillings' mercury levels are typically considered safe.

Is It Safe To Eat Food With Composite Fillings?

Composite dental fillings are a common choice for restorations on teeth because they look like natural teeth and can blend directly into the structure of teeth. Many people are skeptical about the safety of swallowing composite fillings. Composite fillings are designed to withstand regular chewing and biting, allowing people to eat without concern. They are also renowned for their durability and strength compared to certain restoration materials, like glass ionomer or porcelain. They can sustain the pressure from chewing without breaking or fracturing.

Can Composite Fillings Be Removed?

Composite fillings are frequently used due to their natural appearance and ability to adhere to the tooth's structure. However, there could be cases where removing composite fillings is necessary. A dentist can remove a composite dental filling. The procedure entails gently drilling away the current filling substance until it is removed from the teeth. It takes skill and accuracy to prevent harm to the adjacent tooth structure.

What are Composite Fillings Better Than Silver Fillings?

Composite fillings enable dentists to preserve more of the original tooth structure. Composite materials adhere to the tooth's surface through a chemical bonding process similar to an adhesive. The procedure can take a slightly longer period compared to standard amalgam fillings. However, it allows patients to retain more of the original structure of their teeth while benefiting from a subtle and simple restoration.

How Do You Prolong The Life Of Your Composite Fillings?

Composite fillings are often expected to remain functional for at least ten years. However, with careful maintenance, dental fillings can remain intact beyond the average lifespan. To enhance the longevity of your composite fillings, you should schedule biannual professional cleanings and checkups with your dentist, brush and floss your teeth twice daily, and eat various nutritious foods to promote oral health.

Find a Professional Dental Facility Near Me

A composite filling could be ideal if you are looking for a tooth filling that compliments your smile. It can also stop further decay from damaging your teeth. A dentist can discuss your options and ensure this is right for you. This way, you will know exactly what you can expect from composite fillings.

If you require cosmetic dental care services, such as composite fillings, in Beverly Hills, you could contact Dr Joseph Goodman Clinic. Our dentists are available and prepared to handle your dental needs. Call us at 310-860-9311 to schedule a consultation with us.