When considering composites


  Posted by: Dental Design      7th April 2020

Restorative work is likely to be one of the mainstays of your daily workload. As such, the products you use during restorative procedures need to complement your working style to perfection, helping to streamline each step while also ensuring that optimal results are easily achieved.

Bearing this in mind, it’s easy to see why your dental composite is easily one of the most important tools in your armamentarium. But what features should you consider when looking for a dental composite, and how can you harness these to streamline and perfect your restorative treatments?

All about the shade

In an age where aesthetics has become a number one priority for patients, it pays to be able to provide restorative work that seamlessly blends with the original dentition. This may sound obvious, but the shade variety across different composites can be pretty overwhelming and this can mean that you end up purchasing more shades of a certain product than you actually need. This can quickly lead to unnecessary expenditure and waste, especially as research shows that 80% of dental professionals will perform the majority of their restorative treatments with just one shade.[i]

One good thing to look out for when deciding between potential composites is the shade selection they offer. The majority of composites will, of course, offer the full VITA spectrum of A-D, but it’s worth looking out for how many products they use to cover this range. A simplified shade selection that can be used in all indications is likely to be a more cost-effective choice, especially as this is likely to reduce your material waste.

It’s worth remembering, however, that there are certain aesthetic challenges to restoring teeth in the modern day that may require you to broaden your selection of composites past the VITA spectrum. For example, should you regularly treat people with whitened teeth or need to treat extensive staining, composites are available created precisely for these cases, which are well worth stocking in your practice.

Proof in the polish

Another aesthetic consideration to bear in mind is how good the composite is at retaining polish. It’s easy to assume that polish retention doesn’t matter as much as shade, and in some locations, such as far back posterior sites, this is likely the case. However, if polish fades and becomes dull, any restorations in anterior locations will be noticeably different, and this can compromise the overall natural-looking effect.

Can it go the distance?

Regardless of aesthetics, we still need to consider how strong and durable a composite is. After all, it’s all well and good performing a fantastic restoration that is indistinguishable from the natural dentition, but if it fractures due to not being able to handle bite forces, it’s really not a viable option.

The majority of composites will state how strong they are and whether they are best suited to posterior/anterior restorations. Good wear resistance and overall strength are must-haves. Economically, it makes sense to find a product that can provide excellent results in all areas of the oral cavity, though of course for anterior locations it’s vital that aesthetics are more closely considered.

Ease of use

Much like any product, dental composites do present a number of challenges for users. This is usually due to the material properties – even if the flowability of the product is good, this is difficult to fully benefit from unless the packaging has been designed with a nozzle that aids accurate placement. Furthermore, many flowable products can cause bubbles of extra material waste during the application process, and this can be difficult to overcome.

Understanding these challenges, 3M Oral Care has recently launched a new design for its Filtek Supreme Flowable Restorative and Filtek Bulk Fill Flowable Restorative. Offering excellent aesthetics, strength and polish retention, these products now have a new nozzle and syringe designed explicitly to prevent bubble formation and excess material run-on during the dispensing process. Furthermore, the shape of the new tip and changes to the syringe simplify application.

Go with the flow

With so many choices on the market, it always pays to see if you can find a composite that suits your working style and is price-effective too. By choosing products that offer excellent aesthetics as well as durability, and which have design features that prioritise ease of use, you can ensure this all-important part of your armamentarium is suitable for a wide range of indications.


For more information, call 0800 626 578 or visit www.3M.co.uk/Dental


3M and Filtek are trademarks of the 3M Company. 


[i] 3M Internal data – KeyGroup (2018) market research study (over 300 participants from the UK, Germany, US, Russia and Brazil).

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