Fibre reinforced composite is a super strength direct white filling material that be can used to restore teeth in an incredible number of ways.
It is a combination of conventional dental composite (white fillings) and glass fibres to give the same level of strength and flexibility that you get in boats, light aircraft and F1 racing cars.
The fibres are typically long thin strands of glass fibre that are aligned as meshes or strips depending on their requirement. They can be adapted by hand to connect teeth together, reinforce cracked or undermined teeth or support crowns and bridges. The combination of direct white fillings and reinforcing glass fibres is a truly potent one as it allows an amazing blend of strength and aesthetics with the least possible amount of drilling to sound tooth tissue. Because we can place large fillings directly in the mouth we can often reduce the need for more costly crowns and overlays. This can save our patients both time and money, whilst saving the tooth as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Fibre Reinforced Composites really stronger than normal fillings?
Yes they are. Studies have shown that FRCs can resist enormous load and a clinical audit of FRCs placed at StoneRock has shown them to be an invaluable technique for restoring otherwise very compromised teeth that are too far gone for conventional techniques.
Are FRCs as strong as cast metal overlays and crowns?
No. An FRC used as a direct filling in a molar tooth, for example, is not as strong as a cast gold overlay. It is however cheaper, quicker and involves less drilling to natural sound tooth tissue. This makes it an attractive option, especially on teeth that are compromised in other ways and so do not warrant the extra expense required for the stronger option.
How long will FRC last?
This is a difficult question to answer as it will depend on how big the filling is, how much enamel there is available to bond to, how much chewing force the tooth is under and how well looked after the tooth is. Studies carried out in Finland where FRCs are used routinely show that 10 year survival rates are good although it is expected that they will not routinely last much longer than this as the fibres will succumb to fatigue and stress fractures. So long as no damage has occurred to the under lying tooth, however, the technique can be repeated with little or no impact on the tooth.
Can FRCs be repaired if they break?
Yes, this is perhaps one of their greatest assets. All restorations made from FRC can be easily repaired in the mouth, usually with no loss of strength to the final result. This is a huge advantage over porcelain that is used commonly as a restoration at the back of the mouth where it is not best suited. Porcelain is very inflexible and will fracture if it flexes more than 0.5% by volume. FRCs however have the same flexibility as enamel and dentine so can move and flex with the tooth protecting it from damaging stresses. If the FRC does break then it can repaired directly in the mouth, where as the porcelain has to be removed and remade at much greater expense and inconvenience.
Do all dentists use these techniques?
Sadly the answer to this is no. Fibredontolgy is a rapidly expanding area in dentistry but as it is a relatively new development not all dentists are familiar with the techniques and skills required. Approximately 5% of UK dentists currently use these techniques on a regular basis but training programmes are helping to grow this number rapidly.