It is never a great feeling when your dentist says that you have cavities and you need a filling. However, a dental filling is the best solution used to fill the decayed portion of your tooth caused by cavities. Fillings are also used to repair cracked, broken, or worn teeth. These dental fillings come in several different materials that have their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore the various types of fillings so you can decide the one best suits you.
Composite resin fillings are made up of a mixture of plastic and glass powder. When this mixture is put into the tooth, it is in a putty form. It gets hardened by a specialized LED light used by the dentist. These aesthetically appealing fillings blend in with the appearance of natural teeth and can be used in both the front and back teeth. These fillings can be used for cavities, filling gaps, or correcting cosmetic issues. Composite fillings are very technique sensitive and thus require a bit more time to do them and good moisture control. All composite fillings have a small amount of shrinkage after they harden. If a patient does not brush or floss properly, they can be more susceptible to future decay.
Amalgam is usually thought of as a silver filling. Though they look like silver, there are made of a mixture of silver, tin, copper, and a small amount of mercury. Although people have expressed their concern about the use of mercury in the mixture, it is completely safe. When mercury is mixed with other metals, it becomes stable and does not escape from the filling. These fillings are often used when it is difficult to keep the tooth dry. If you are looking for fillings that blend in, it is probably not a good option as they are very noticeable and tend to darken over time. Lastly, silver fillings can crack teeth; these cracks do not show up until many years after they are put in.
Ceramic fillings are made of porcelain. These fillings not only match the natural colour of your teeth, but they are also more durable. These type of fillings are used for inlays, onlays, crowns, veneers, and implants. Since ceramic restorations are more durable, they do tend to last longer. Ceramic fillings will cost more than composite and amalgam fillings and may require more than one appointment to complete.
These type of fillings are made of an alloy of gold, copper, and other metals. Gold fillings are far more durable than many of the other materials and thus can withstand a lot of chewing force. Since gold does not corrode, it does not stain teeth. However, gold fillings are expensive and can be noticeable to the naked eye. Gold fillings are not commonly done in most dental offices.
Glass ionomer fillings are made of acrylic and a component of glass called fluoroaluminosilicate. These fillings are great for patients who always get cavities because the material releases fluoride and protects the tooth. This material is generally slightly less aesthetic than composite fillings because they are dull and cannot reflect light. Glass ionomers are weaker than the other types of fillings and thus cannot take as much chewing force.
The best way to repair and preserve any type of filling is by following good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings.