Composite (plastic) fillings are a better alternative to traditional mercury fillings. Composite fillings can be used to restore small to medium-sized areas of decay on a portion of the tooth.
A plastic filling is a tooth-colored quartz-like material. After tooth decay is removed and cleaned, this tooth-colored material is layered onto the tooth and hardened with a high-intensity light. After shaping and polishing, the final restoration is virtually invisible.
Why do we prefer Composite Fillings?
No dental material used is better than your natural tooth enamel, so when considering which materials or techniques to use, we always seek to conserve as much natural tooth structure as possible.
This is also why we advocate that you see a provider who is trained and skilled at porcelain inlays and onlays vs. traditional ‘drill it down to a nub’ crowns.
When deciding whether to place a metal filling or a white plastic filling it is important to note that metal fillings are not chemically bonded to the tooth. They stay in place due to mechanical retention that must be created by the dentist cutting away extra tooth structure to create an undercut in the hole where the filling material is to be placed. The metal filling starts as a sand mixture that is packed into the tooth and then it is hardened into what you see in your tooth – but it only stays in the tooth because of the undercut.