- Oct. 3, 2018, 11:21 a.m.
- teeth fillings, fillings, types of fillings
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What is a Filling?
A filling is when material is placed into a damaged tooth to restore it back to its’ normal shape and function. A dentist provides a filling by, removing the decayed tooth material, cleaning the affected area, and then fills the cleaned-out cavity with the chosen filling material. Fillings also prevent further decay by closing off spaces where food can collect and be hard to clean out, which allows bacteria to flourish damage more of the tooth.
The best filling material is actually no filling at all. Prevention of decay is the best way to keep your teeth healthy and strong.
Which Type of Filling is the Best?
Fillings can be of various materials; gold, porcelain, composite resin (tooth-coloured fillings), and amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc). Composite resin is the most common type.
There is no one type of filling that can be considered to be the best! The type of filling which is best suited for you will be determined by the extent of the repair needed, the amount of good tooth structure left to bond the filling to and the location of the filling.
1. Composite Resin Fillings
Material: Plastic & Fine glass particles
Common Uses: Small/large fillings; especially in front teeth or the visible parts of teeth & inlays
Expected Life: 5+ years
Costs: Medium; more than amalgam, but less than gold
- Composite resin come in a wide range of shade and enables the dentist to closely match the colour of the teeth
- Composite resin fillings can be completed in one dental visit.
- In appropriate treatment circumstances, Composite resin fillings can bond directly to the tooth.
- Composite resin fillings require less drilling when compared with amalgam fillings.
- Composite Resin fillings are more costly than amalgam fillings.
- Composite resin fillings are prone to shrinkage
- Composite fillings are sensitive to moisture and may not be as reliable if they are not placed in a moisture free environment.
- Composite resin fillings take more to time to place as they are usually placed in layers. This increased time and labor leads to the higher cost.
2. Amalgam Fillings
Material: Silver, tin, zinc, copper & mercury. (Mercury is nearly 50% of the mixture.)
Common Uses: Fillings in back teeth
Expected Life: 10+ years
Costs: Low; the least expensive type of restorative material.
- Amalgam fillings are cheaper than alternatives
- Amalgam fillings are mostly strong when used in the correct situation and can withstand most of the forces of chewing.
- Amalgam fillings can be finished in a single dental visit.
- Amalgam fillings are less sensitive to moisture during the filling process than composite resin and can sometimes be easier to place.
- Amalgam fillings are not tooth-coloured.
- Amalgam fillings can corrode or tarnish over time.
- Traditional amalgam fillings don’t bond (hold together) with your tooth.
- Amalgam fillings require greater cavity preparation; dentists may need to remove more of the tooth to create a secure pocket.
- Amalgam fillings have high mercury content, and mercury allergies are quite common.
- The WHO have banned the placement of amalgam fillings in children in many countries. With the introduction of modern technology, there are better and safer filling materials available than amalgam now days.
3. Ceramic Fillings
Material: Porcelain, emax, zirconia
Common Uses: Inlays, onlays, crowns, veneers, implants, & orthodontic brackets
Expected Life: 7+ years
Costs: High; as much as gold, at times even higher
- Ceramic fillings closely match the colour of teeth
- Ceramic fillings are strong and can withstand chewing forces in most situations
- Ceramic fillings are more resistant to staining and abrasion than composite resin fillings.
- Ceramic fillings are one of the most expensive types of fillings.
- Ceramic fillings need to be large enough to prevent breaking; meaning the tooth must be reduced in size to make room for the extra bulk.
4. Cast Gold Filling
Material: Gold Alloy (Gold & Other Metals)
Common Uses: Inlays, onlays & crowns
Expected Life: 15+ years
Costs: High; usually the most expensive type of Filling.
- Gold fillings are corrosion free.
- Gold fillings are durable enough to withstand strong chewing forces.
- In the right situation, gold fillings can last longer than all other filling materials.
- Gold fillings can take multiple visits (Two or more visits)
- Gold fillings are expensive; due to the high cost of gold and the work involved.
- Gold fillings are not tooth-coloured.
- Sometimes gold and amalgam fillings can react. When they are placed next to one another, the interactions between the metals and your saliva can cause discomfort, called "galvanic shock."
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