Tooth-colored restorations have been used in dentistry for a long time. Several variations of these materials have been used in front teeth for many years. The newest generation of tooth-colored filling materials (resins) is also used to restore cavities in back teeth. This is especially true when the restoration would be easily visible when you talk or smile. The use of silver amalgam filling materials in small- to medium-sized restorations is declining. These posterior (back) tooth-colored resins can be expected to last for several years. A reasonable estimate at this time is approximately 10 to 12 or more years. Longevity of the resin fillings (and silver fillings) is a function of the position and size of the filling, the care the patient gives it, and the foods the patient eats.
Resin restorations in back teeth require less drilling than for silver fillings. Because of the filling material itself and the insulating liners and bases used under these resins, there can be fluoride release and a subsequent inhibition of new cavity formation. They are excellent for small one-, two-, and three-surface restorations in premolars and molars. Advantages of the resin restorations include a natural appearance similar to that of your real tooth and the most conservative preparation of your tooth. The less the dentist must drill your tooth, the better off you are and the fewer dental problems you will develop in the future. They also restore a high percentage of the tooth’s original strength. When a tooth is prepared (drilled), it becomes weaker. Restoring it with a bonded resin material will help make it strong again. They require only one appointment for completion.
Disadvantages include technique sensitivity, that is, they are harder to place than silver fillings. They also cost about 50% more than silver fillings. They can be used only rarely in patients who have a grinding or bruxing (clenching) habit. They cannot be easily used in areas where there is not a sufficient amount of original tooth structure. They require more time to finish.
Resin restorations are among the most conservative restorations in dentistry today. They require the least amount of drilling. The smaller any filling can be, the longer it will last. They are best for small to medium fillings. In areas where the display of metal from a silver filling would be unsightly, they are of great cosmetic importance.
If you have any questions about bonded resin restorations, please feel free to ask us.