White fillings are a popular type of dental filling used to restore decayed teeth or cavities. Because they are available in a number of colour options, they can blend seamlessly with your affected tooth’s remaining structure and the surrounding teeth – as opposed to highly visible metal fillings. White fillings can also be used to change the shape and size of your teeth, which is especially beneficial in cases of damaged, worn or eroded teeth.

The difference between CEREC porcelain and composite resin fillings

Not all white fillings are the same. While different types of white fillings may look very similar, they come in two main options based on the filling material used – porcelain or composite resin. Glass Ionomer fillings (GIC) are another white filling option but are typically used in cases of child tooth decay, adult temporary fillings and sub-gingival fillings (below the gumline). The difference between porcelain and composite filling materials is like comparing apples to oranges. Porcelain fillings – also known as inlays, CEREC or ceramic restorations – are a lot harder and durable than “composite resin” fillings which are also referred to as plastic, resin or composite fillings.

Composite resin – the low-cost but less durable filling option

Composite fillings are definitely the least expensive filling option – but you get what you pay for. Despite the advantage of saving on your short term dental costs, composite fillings don’t have the same success rate as porcelain fillings. They need to be replaced after 5 or 6 years since they cannot withstand the pressures of heavy chewing over time. This may result in a higher risk of fractures and a breakage which means you may have to repair or replace them more often. Another problem with composite fillings is that they can shrink over time thus pulling away from and stressing the natural tooth structure walls surrounding the fillings.

So, not only can the filling fail but your remaining original tooth may fracture also. Additionally, once composite fillings start to contract, tooth decay can start to penetrate between the filling and original tooth structure and cause more oral issues. If left untreated, this can result in hidden decay, catastrophic failure and tooth loss. Lastly, colour integrity is also an issue since composites can fade or discolour and start standing out from the rest of your teeth.

CEREC porcelain fillings – the more natural looking and long-lasting filling

Porcelain fillings are a better and more stable long term filling solution. If they are CEREC fillings, these super-hard restorations are created using the latest 3D CAD-CAM dental technologies – for a perfect and very stable fit that lasts 15 years or more. When completed successfully, they can also support the remaining tooth structure and prevent further deterioration.

Since there is minimal wear and tear on porcelain fillings, there is less of a requirement to excavate and prep a tooth. This means you’ll be able to retain more of your natural tooth structure – to create a stronger foundation for your filling. CEREC fillings are more expensive without a doubt, but when you factor in the replacement expenses of composites over time, the cost differential is negligible.