The evolving role of fiberglass in dentistry

The use of fiber reinforced composites (FRCs) as a substitute for metallic restorations is growing.

If you’re not already using this material in your practice, it likely warrants further investigation.

The advantage of fiber reinforced composite restorations

Typically, FRCs provide improved biomechanical performance. While the material is not quite as strong as a cast metal overlay or crown, it is stronger than a normal filling and can be used to restore teeth too damaged for a traditional composite.

In addition, the ability to place large fillings directly into the mouth can often eliminate the need for more expensive crowns or overlays. FRCs can also be repaired in the mouth without affecting strength. As a bonus, FRCs are biocompatible and do not pose any threat of toxicity.

Common treatment scenarios

A number of treatment scenarios lend themselves well to the use of FRCs. Here are a few of the most common applications:

  • Reinforcement of large composite restorations
  • Replacing a missing incisor, premolar or molar
  • Fixed retainers following orthodontic treatment
  • Fixed partial dentures
  • Periodontal splints
  • Custom-fitting endodontic posts

E-glass

E-glass, also known as borosilicate glass, is commonly used in fiberglass dental restorations. Comprised of silica and boron trioxide, this type of glass has a very low coefficient of thermal expansion, which renders it insusceptible to thermal stress or shock.

How long do fiber reinforced composites last?

Longevity depends on oral conditions, the size of the restoration, how much enamel is available to bond to, and other factors, but 10 years is a relatively safe estimate before failure. FRC restorations are usually easy to replace if there is no damage to the underlying tooth.