The procedure for a composite filling may take a little longer than those for other types of fillings, because after the decay is removed, the tooth must be kept totally isolated from saliva. The dentist carefully applies an adhesive followed by several thin layers of the tooth-colored composite. Once the filling is in place, it is chemically hardened, or cured, for less than a minute with a special light.
Composites are preferable for obvious cosmetic reasons, but if the decayed area is large or is subject to heavy chewing pressure, your dentist may recommend another type of material or restoration. Some people may experience some sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures in the newly filled tooth for a few days or as long as a week. If the sensitivity continues beyond that time, contact your dentist.
Other types of white fillings include composite inlays and porcelain inlays and onlays. Inlays and onlays are used to restore teeth that are badly damaged by decay or wear. They may be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth when esthetics are of concern.
Some white fillings may be more expensive than other dental materials, but most patients find these natural-looking restorations well worth the additional cost. White fillings, like other dental materials, may require periodic replacement. If the edge of the filling eventually pulls away from the tooth, bacteria can get between the filling and the enamel and eventually may cause decay. Tooth decay over time may develop else-where on the tooth. Regular dental checkups are important because they allow the dentist to detect a problem in the early stage.