Composite: what is it and what is it used for in dentistry?

In dental practices such as ours, a multitude of different instruments and materials are used, which are often quite unfamiliar to the general public. However, it is becoming more and more common, especially among the younger generation, to show a certain curiosity and interest in understanding to some extent what goes on inside the cabinet. After all, we are talking about their oral health, so this interest is quite understandable and we, as you know, encourage it whenever we can. 

That is why I want to talk to you today about a material that is commonly used in dental clinics all over the world for a multitude of treatments, as we will see in this article. I am referring to composite. 

The composite is a composite resin made up of different components that give it particular characteristics that are very useful for its handling. It is a fully mouldable material that only hardens when a direct light source is applied, which is why it is considered a light-curing material. It is also a very versatile material, as it can be solid, heavy or fluid, and its particles can have different sizes, from macro to nano through micro, which will provide it with different mechanical and aesthetic properties. 

The composite is adhered to the tooth thanks to a previous preparation of the dental piece that we achieve through acid etching and an adhesive.

USES OF COMPOSITE IN DENTISTRY

For those of you who are more or less familiar with the term composite, it is sure to have come to mind at first: the material used to make fillings. And yes, that's true, but there is much more to composite, and I will now list some of its uses in the field of dentistry: 

Fillings/Obturations

Obviously, as I have already mentioned, composite is the material of choice when filling (what we know as a filling) a tooth after it has been cleaned of decay. Some people remember the days when silver amalgam was used in the past, but fortunately this has been discontinued because of the cracks it caused in the tooth and because composite is much more aesthetically pleasing. 

Reconstruction of broken or fractured teeth

Blows, falls and other trauma are some of the most frequent causes of broken teeth. Due to the very nature of these traumas, the most normal thing that happens in the vast majority of cases is that the teeth on the aesthetic front, those that the patient shows when smiling, end up being damaged. In these cases, the patient is looking for a quick result in the short term, in order to solve the aesthetic problem that has arisen as soon as possible. Due to its properties, composite is an ideal material that manages to recreate the missing part of the tooth quickly and aesthetically. 

Cemented

Composite in its flowable version is often used for cementing prosthetic work such as a inlay or a porcelain veneer.

Closure of the loopholes

As with tooth fractures, the mimetic properties of the composite allow us to close the fractures with very aesthetic results. famous black triangles appearing between teeth. This technique basically consists of using composite to reshape the tooth to close these spaces.

Composite veneers

As with their porcelain counterparts, composite veneers are also an excellent option for significantly improving dental aesthetics. The malleability of composite allows us to give the tooth the desired shape and transform a patient's smile in a single appointment. Moreover, commercial companies are making things easier and easier, as they now offer a wide range of shades, as well as composites that simulate enamel and dentine - the two main layers of the tooth. 

COMPOSITE DURABILITY AND MAINTENANCE

The durability of the composite depends on several factors. Firstly, the area of the mouth where it is applied. When they are applied in the aesthetic area, they last less than in the molar area because they have less bonding surface. But even more important are the patient's habits. If we acquire bad habits such as opening containers with our teeth, modern nails or cutting threads, the duration of the composite will be reduced. In addition, tobacco, coffee, red fruits, wine and other colouring foods make it susceptible to staining. That said, the average life span of the composite is around 10 years. 

In terms of maintenance, composite usually needs to be polished approximately every 5 years. It should be taken into account, especially in its aesthetic use, that being a resin, it deteriorates more quickly than ceramic.