If your child or teen has been complaining of tooth pain or tooth sensitivity, you may suspect they have a cavity. Dental caries, or cavities, begin to form when the healthy bacteria in your mouth comes into contact with sugars and starches. Together, they form an acid that begins to break down the enamel of the tooth, creating a small, painful hole in your child’s tooth!
To alleviate your child’s pain and save their tooth, our pediatric dentists may recommend a composite filling! But what is a composite filling? And is it safe for your child?
Here’s everything you need to know about composite fillings!
What is a composite filling?
A composite filling goes by many names! “Tooth colored fillings”, “Composite resins”, or simply “white fillings”, they offer a natural appearance to your teeth after cavities.
A dental composite filling is made from acrylic resin, an FDA-approved plastic substance created from a mixture of powdered glass quartz, silica, and other ceramic materials.
Although not as strong as traditional amalgam (silver) fillings, composite fillings are a safe and effective treatment for cavities! This type of filling is designed to withstand the pressure and stress of chewing so they can be used on any tooth—front or back!
How long do composite fillings last?
Composite fillings on average last about 7 years. But some can last 10 years or more! Why such a range between the two? Well how long your child’s tooth colored filling lasts relies on a few different factors.
- Location. The pressure exerted on your child’s teeth is greatest on their posterior teeth, or back teeth.
- Size. Filling size matters! Smaller fillings tend to last longer because your child has more of their natural tooth structure.
- Placement Technique. Composite fillings can be tricky to place because they require your child’s affected tooth to stay clean and dry during the procedure. But our pediatric dentists have extensive experience in placing composite fillings so no moisture or bacteria will get into your child’s filling.
- Diet. Kids with high-sugar diets are at a risk of developing more cavities, even around their composite tooth filling. Encouraging your child to stick to a healthy diet can protect their teeth from further damage and help them fight off cavity-causing bacteria!
- Your Oral Hygiene Routine. Establishing and maintaining a strong oral hygiene routine for your child is not only essential to protecting their smile from more cavities, but also allows their composite fillings to last longer!
- Mouth Habits. Teeth grinding, or bruxism can affect the longevity of your child’s composite filling too! Normal chewing forces exerts up to 40 lbs of pressure on your child’s teeth. If they suffer from bruxism, the forces exerted on their teeth can equal hundreds of pounds of pressure. Our pediatric dentists may recommend a mouthguard to help protect your child’s teeth from further damage as well!
Advantages and disadvantages of a composite tooth filling
A tooth-colored filling doesn’t retract from the brilliance of your child’s smile because it blends in with the natural color of their teeth! Let’s look at the pros and cons of composite tooth filling for your child:
- Natural appearance (tooth-colored)
- Able to repair/replace if damaged
- Bonds with natural tooth structure (This means your child gets to keep more of their natural tooth structure—rather than drilling it away!)
- Don’t last as long as amalgam fillings
- Longer procedure
- Can cost more than amalgam fillings
Composite Fillings Offer a Cavity-Free, Natural Smile!
Sometimes cavities can be difficult to see because they can form anywhere on the tooth’s surface, even between the teeth. That’s why it’s important to keep regular dental appointments so the health of your child’s teeth can be monitored through digital x-rays and a visual exam by a dental expert!
We can treat cavities with composite fillings for children and teens at Kids Smiles! If you’re worried about the durability and appearance of your child’s smile after cavities, our experienced pediatric dentists can place tooth colored fillings to blend in with the natural color of your child’s smile.
We’re here to answer your questions, and we want you and your child to know your options! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time.
Dr. Sierra, Dr. Kwon, Dr. Patel and our team are here to help guide you and your child. We offer kinder, gentler dentistry for kids and teens. It is our goal that your child develops and maintains a positive association with dental care and we do everything we can to create a pleasant, supportive, and fun environment for our little patients.