There are many types of fillings that dentists commonly use to fill in space where they remove decay. If you ever need a filling, here’s some helpful information about the different types. You may not always have a choice in the type of filling you need, but if you do, it’s helpful to know the pros and cons of each.
We will cover five main types of tooth fillings in this post. These are:
Silver amalgam fillings
Glass ionomer fillings
A composite filling is one of the main types of dental filling material. Among the various types of fillings, this one is popular among most patients that visit the dentist for routine check-ups. This dental filling material consists of different resins that the dentist applies to the affected cavity area while it’s still in its semi-solid state.
By the use of a bright blue ‘curing’ light, the material’s chemical composition is changed, thereby causing it to change its physical state. In other words, the blue light is used as a catalyst to harden the material to completely cover up the cavity. The main reason why this filling is commonly used is that it’s one of the best types of tooth fillings available that can be matched in color to the shade of the affected tooth.
Dental amalgam is made from a combination of metals that include mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Sometimes described as “silver-colored” fillings, dentists have been using amalgam for more than 100 years because it lasts a long time and is less expensive than other cavity-filling materials such as tooth-colored composites or gold fillings.
Because of their durability, these silver-colored fillings are often the best choice for large cavities or those that occur in the back teeth where a lot of force is needed to chew. Amalgam hardens quickly so it is useful in areas that are difficult to keep dry during placement, such as below the gum line. Because it takes less time to place than tooth-colored fillings, amalgam is also an effective material for children and special needs people who may have a difficult time staying still during treatment.
One disadvantage of amalgam is that these types of fillings are not natural looking, especially when the filling is near the front of the mouth, where it may show when you laugh or speak. Also, to prepare the tooth, the dentist may need to remove more tooth structure to place an amalgam filling than for other types of fillings.
Dentists put to use the glass ionomer fillings for children who are still undergoing the shedding of teeth. About other types of fillings, the glass ionomer has one of the shortest of life-spans that is less than 5 years. Ideally, what makes it unique from the other types of fillings is that it produces fluoride around the cavity. This procedure prevents the affected tooth from incurring further decay and is something that is not offered by most of the other types of fillings.
On the other hand, the glass ionomer is weaker as compared to composite resin. This is because it’s highly prone to cracks, wear, and tear. Also, the traditional ionomer can’t be used to accurately match the color of the teeth like the composite resin.
This filling is the most expensive in contrast to other types of fillings. The main reason why they’re highly-priced is that they’re both aesthetically attractive and long-lasting.
Ceramic is a good choice to consider amid other types of dental fillings on account of its tooth color design and high resistance to staining. This puts it rank higher than the composite resin, but it’s still a lot more brittle. As a result, the input procedure is slightly different than the other types of tooth fillings, where space needs to be enlarged further to create room for its bulkiness. While slightly different from the various types of tooth fillings, ceramic dental restorations are known as onlays or inlays.
Just as you might have guessed it, gold fillings are expensive regarding other different types of tooth fillings. You’re more likely to never come across a dentist who will bring it forward as an option knowing very well there are other tooth filling options. Different from the types of dental fillings we discussed above, gold doesn’t corrode and can last up to 15 years or more.
The only downside about gold is that it takes a series of visits to get it properly fitted into the cavity space. This generally makes it harder to fit compared to other types of tooth fillings.
If you have to get a filling, you and your dentist have lots of materials to choose from. Before your appointment, get up to speed on your options.
Composite fillings are the most widely used dental filling material. They’re made of glass or quartz in resin.
Your dentist may choose a composite filling if the size of your cavity is small to medium, or if your tooth gets a lot of chewing action.
These may also be a good choice for people who are afraid of dental work since a composite can be bonded in place, which means less drilling.
Advantages: Your dentist can closely match the color of a composite filling to the color of your teeth.
Cons: Composite fillings can stain or discolor over time, just like your teeth.
The newer options for dental fillings include glass ionomers, made of acrylic acids, and fine-glass powders.
Pros: They can be colored to blend in with your nearby teeth. They also can be designed to release small amounts of fluoride, which helps prevent decay.
Cons: These fillings can break, so they’re not a good choice for surfaces that do a lot of chewing. Your dentist may instead suggest that you use it for a cavity near your gum line or to fill between teeth.
When you need a crown, inlay, or veneer, the go-to material is typically porcelain, ceramic, or another glass-like substance.
Pros: The color closely matches your teeth. These materials hold up for a long time and are very hard.
Cons: You’ll need several visits to your dentist to get a tooth restored with porcelain, and it can cost more than other options.
Dentists choose porcelain for veneers because it can be formed into thin shells that fit over the surface of your teeth.
Dentists have used amalgam to fill cavities for more than a century. These fillings combine silver, tin, copper, and mercury.
Pros: They’re long-lasting and relatively inexpensive.
Cons: Amalgam is silver-colored, so other people may see them when you smile. Also, you may be temporarily sensitive to hot or cold after you get a filling.
Your dentist may suggest amalgam if your cavity is in a back molar because it stands up well to chewing.
Some people may have concerns about the safety of mercury in amalgam, but the American Dental Association says this material is safe.
What people call “silver” fillings are made by mixing metals that look like silver. They are typically used for crowns, fixed bridges, and partial dentures.
Pros: The material is strong. It isn’t likely to break or wear down. It’s also relatively inexpensive.
Cons: You may find that it makes your teeth sensitive to heat or cold. Also, the color won’t match your teeth.
Gold fillings are indeed made of gold, combined with other metals. They are typically used for inlays, crowns, and fixed bridges.
Pros: They’re strong and aren’t likely to break down or stain.
Cons: The color won’t match your teeth, so it’s most often used for back teeth or cavities that don’t show. Also, it can be relatively expensive.
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