By Dr Maryanne KARIUKI
Tooth-coloured fillings are similar in colour to the natural teeth. They are made from plastics referred to as composite resins and are slowly gaining popularity in aesthetic dentistry.
1. Superior aesthetics: Since composite fillings are similar to the colour of the teeth, they are not easily noticeable hence superior in aesthetics. They are the preferred choice in filling anterior teeth and teeth along the smiling zone.
2. Bonding to teeth: Unlike the silver-based fillings, composite resins have the ability to bond to the teeth. When well done, these fillings are durable and harder to fall off from the cavity.
3. Less tooth destruction: As these fillings bond to the tooth, less tooth material is lost unlike the others where more tooth material is lost to create space and retention of the tooth.
4. Mouldable: This filling is usually presented in a mouldable form. Therefore, the dentist can shape the filling to suite the shape of the tooth, use it to enlarge a tooth and close unwanted tooth gaps as well as reconstruct a broken tooth to its similar original shape.
4. Free from mercury: These fillings are free from mercury hence a good alternative for the mercury-based fillings.
Staining: Just like natural teeth, these fillings absorb colours from food overtime. It is, therefore, advised to have them redone after some years.
Minimal strength: Unlike the silver fillings, which can withstand high chewing forces, composite fillings are preferable in small and medium cavities and in areas with low stress during chewing.
Time consuming: The dentist usually takes more time to do a composite filling as it is done in incremental layers of two to three millimetres per time until the cavity is covered. In addition, preps are done to the cavity prior to the filling.
Costly: A tooth-coloured filling usually costs more than the metal-based filling. The composite resin and the extra materials needed during the prep of the cavity are expensive.