Perhaps the most common restorative dentistry treatment, dental fillings are comprised of a variety of materials used to “fill in” the area of a tooth once invaded by decay. The idea behind fillings is to prevent further decay, and ensure that the tooth can function normally. Dentists begin by removing the decayed portion of the tooth. Next, they thoroughly clean the tooth. Last, the space is filled. Yet, the greatest question regarding dental fillings involves which material is best. This is usually determined by the extent of damage to the tooth, and how much decay is present. Here is what you need to know about Dental Fillings, including the unique differences between materials.
Chances are, you’re familiar with amalgam fillings. Having been used for over 100 years, these are the noticeably distinct silver fillings. Comprised of tin, copper, mercury, and zinc, these fillings represent a traditional material that is cost-efficient and durable. Even so, there is some controversy surrounding silver amalgam fillings. For instance, some claim that the mercury contained in this material is harmful. Patients should know—the mercury used in amalgam fillings is not the same type of mercury found in fish. Thus, these fillings are considered safe. Because they harden quickly, they benefit younger patients and those with special needs, because the time spent in the dental chair is short. Silver amalgam fillings are easy to place, and prove to be successful in filling large cavities and those in the back of the mouth.
On the other hand, it’s important to note a few disadvantages. In terms of aesthetics, amalgam fillings are not natural looking. In fact, they are easily seen, especially when a person laughs or smiles. In addition, these fillings do not bond to teeth. This means that more of the natural tooth structure must be removed prior to placing the filling.
As another dental filling material, tooth-colored composite fillings are comprised of strong composite resin. In comparison to silver amalgam fillings, there are a few key differences. First, composite resin fillings are soft and flexible, allowing dentists to mold and reinforce the material as it is placed. It allows for more creativity and specific placement of filling material without removing a large portion of the tooth’s natural structure. Second, composite resin fillings match the color of teeth. Therefore, it is virtually impossible to tell that a cavity has been placed! Lastly, while tooth-colored composite fillings are slightly more expensive than silver amalgam, they remain a cost-effective option for dental fillings.
Other options for dental filling materials are gold and porcelain. Called inlays and onlays, these fillings are produced in a lab and are then cemented or bonded to teeth. Long lasting and easily tolerated by soft tissues in the mouth, these options are generally more expensive, and may require more than one visit.
At Dr. C Family Dentistry, protecting your smile is our top priority. Thus, when it comes to filling materials, we’ll help you choose the one that makes sense for your oral health as well as your budget. If you suspect that you have a cavity, or if you are unsure of which dental filling material is best, please call our office today. We look forward to speaking with you.
Posted on behalf of Dr. C Family Dentistry