About Dental Composite Restorations

What is a dental composite?

Dental composite restorative material is the most commonly used tooth-colored restorative material in dental practice. It is a compound of two or more distinctly different materials with properties that are superior or intermediate to those of their individual constituents. Traditionally a dental composite refers to a mixture of silicate glass particles within an acrylic monomer which hardens by polymerization reactions.

When are dental composites used?

Dental caries (tooth cavities) that occur on the grinding surfaces of molars and premolars can be restored with dental composite. It can also be used as a preventive restoration for sealing of the pits and fissure that are susceptible to develop caries due to food accumulation.

The dental carious lesions occurring in between two teeth can be successfully restored and re-contoured using a dental composite material. Majority of the tooth cavities seen in the anterior teeth are restored with dental composites. The better aesthetic properties of dental composites make it almost impossible to detect the filled surfaces on the tooth.

In case of a fall or an injury when the small portion (<1mm)of the front teeth chips off, dental composites can be used to restore the edges of the tooth and re-establish the aesthetic appearance. Dental composites are also used as a material for core build up in case of an extensively damaged vital tooth. They are also indicated for core build up for a root canal of the front teeth.

Dental composite restorations contribute to a major portion of the aesthetic and cosmetic branch of dentistry. Various procedures of altering the tooth crown size, to modify smile can be established by use of dental composite restoration.

Why are dental composites preferred?

Various orthodontic problems such as spacing in between the teeth, midline diastema, peg shaped and very small lateral incisors can be altered visually by re-countering the teeth with dental composites. They can also be used to modify a canine to resemble a lateral incisor in case of a congenitally missing lateral incisor.

Various aesthetic applications of dental composites are available in dentistry and can vary depending upon the patient’s cosmetic and aesthetic needs. Dental composites can be used in generalized teeth disorders such as mild to moderate fluorosis or hypoplasia of the teeth leading to various degrees of discoloration and unsightly appearance to the smile.

When not to use composite resin restorations?

Patients with repeated cavities and poor oral hygiene practices are not advised to get dental composite restorations as the risk of secondary caries and marginal staining is high in such cases. Dental composites are also not to be used at sites where heavy abnormal forces are created on the tooth. This occurs more frequently in patients suffering from disorders such as bruxism (grinding of teeth) where the abnormal force can lead to fracture of the composite resin restoration.

In deep cavities that extend into the gums, a dental composite resin may not bond to the root surface of the tooth leading to an inadequate seal of the restoration. This can lead to secondary root caries and should therefore be avoided.

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