Composite Fillings: What Are They Made Of?

Composite resins, also known as white or tooth-coloured fillings, are a popular alternative to the traditional amalgam fillings. Recent studies have shown that amalgam, otherwise known as silver or mercury fillings, can cause health problems due to the hi

Composite resins, also known as white or tooth-coloured fillings, are a popular alternative to the traditional amalgam fillings. Recent studies have shown that amalgam, otherwise known as silver or mercury fillings, are environmentally unfriendly and there is much debate globally regarding health problems potentially caused by the high levels of mercury present in the recipe. Composite resins are a durable, strengthened replacement to an outdated solution.

The History of Composite Fillings

Dentists began using dental composite resins in the late 1960s really just for fillings in front teeth. Initially, composites were set by a chemical reaction between two pastes containing an activator (tertiary amine) and an initiator (benzoyl peroxide). In the 1970s, light-curing, UV resin composites were introduced as a better solution. However, limitations and risks from the first ultraviolet units meant they were later replaced by visible light-curing systems.

By the end of the 1970s, a new range of micro filled systems was introduced to the European market, providing increased colour stability and higher resistance to wear than previous composites. By 1981, micro filled composites had been noticeably improved and a new acid etch technique was implemented and a bonding agent was applied.

Composite Fillings Today

Today, composite fillings are bonded to the tooth, strengthening the structure and restoring some of the tooth’s original dental integrity. They are used to repair decayed, chipped, broken or worn teeth. Modern composites can be applied to either front or back teeth. They are made from a combination of non-toxic, tooth-coloured plastic and glass beads, and are ideal for repairing fractured teeth as well as using for cosmetic improvements. 

Contemporary composite resins are typically formulated from:

  • Bis-GMA (bisphenol A-glycidyl methacrylate)
  • Dimethacrylate monomers (TEGMA, UDMA, HDDMA)
  • Filler materials, e.g. Silica (Silicon dioxide) silica
  • Synthetic photoinitiator
  • Dimethylglyoxime

The physical properties of resin composites can be revised for specific dental needs by formulating unique concentrations of each of these constituents.

Of course the best dental filling is no dental filling. You can significantly decrease the risk of cavities and other dental issues such as gum disease by:

  • Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing daily
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Having regular dental visits

Considering a composite resin filling? Contact Hobsonville Point Dental to learn more or schedule a visit today. We provide a range of dental services, including fillings, false teeth and dental crowns. We’ll review your dental history, discuss your treatment options and get you smiling with happier teeth.

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