Composites (tooth-colored restorations)

A composite filling is a tooth-colored plastic and glass mixture used to restore decayed teeth. Composites are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.

Following preparation, the composite is placed in layers, typically using a light specialized to harden each layer. When the process is finished, the composite is shaped to fit the tooth. The composite is then polished to prevent staining and early wear.

Composites bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure, which helps to prevent breakage and insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes.  Aesthetics are also an advantage of composites, since shades can be blended to create a color nearly identical to that of the actual tooth.

After receiving a composite, a patient may experience postoperative sensitivity. Also, the shade of the composite can change slightly if the patient drinks tea, coffee or other staining foods. A clear plastic coating can be placed over the composite to prevent the color from changing if a patient is particularly concerned about tooth color. Composites hold up very well in small cavities; however, they are susceptible to wear in larger cavities over a period of time.