Tooth fillings are one of the most popular dental procedures in the world. They are designed to fill the holes left in a tooth after severe tooth decay, or after the tooth develops holes or cracks from other oral trauma or previous dental treatment. From gold to tooth-colored plastic, there are different types of filling materials available, each with its own pros and cons.
Let’s explore the common types of tooth fillings.
Silver Amalgam Fillings
Silver Amalgam is the most commonly used type of filling. It’s a blend of different materials – 50 percent silver, zinc, copper, and tin, with the other half being mercury. It’s mostly preferred because of its strength, durability, and affordability.
On average, a silver amalgam filling can last at least 15 years. Moreover, this type of filling is quite easy for a dentist to apply to a cavity. It’s also not prone to contamination by saliva or blood.
Silver amalgam is not without some downsides. It’s not aesthetically appealing, and hence not ideal for a tooth that is very visible. Additionally, the material tends to expand and contract over time, which may cause a tooth to crack.
Also known as ceramic fillings, porcelain fillings are popular for their durability and aesthetic appeal. They’re tooth-colored and highly resistant to staining and discoloration. However, porcelain fillings are more expensive than many other types of fillings.
Another disadvantage is that it’s significantly brittle and hence needs to be larger to minimize the risk of breaking. That means a large portion of your tooth structure has to be removed to create room for the fillings.
A composite tooth filling is typically made of powdered glass and acrylic resin. The best thing about this type of filling is that it can be shaded to match the color of your natural teeth, making it difficult to detect. It’s an ideal choice if you are keen on preserving your natural smile.
The fact that these fillings can be bonded directly to your tooth means they make your tooth stronger than it would be with amalgam fillings. Composite fillings are not without some disadvantages, however.
The material used to make this type of filling is less durable compared to other types of filling such as silver amalgam and porcelain. That means composite fillings usually have a shorter lifespan. They are also not ideal for teeth that handle a lot of chewing like molars and premolars.
Gold fillings are the least common type and perhaps the most expensive. They are sturdy and highly resistant to corrosion. A gold filling can last for more than 15 years.
It’s worth noting that you’ll need more than one dentist appointment to have a gold filling applied properly.
If the part of your tooth that extends below the gum is extensively decayed, your dentist may have to use glass ionomer to fix the decay. Glass ionomer is mainly used as cement for inlay fillings. It can also do a great job when used for fillings in front teeth or tooth roots. It’s an excellent material for filling baby teeth. Moreover, it can be used as a liner for other types of tooth fillings.
There is a wide range of filling material available, including silver amalgam, porcelain, composite, gold, and glass ionomer. Each of these materials has advantages and disadvantages. Your dentist can examine your cavities and help you choose the right type of dental fillings. If you’re looking for something durable, more natural-looking, and yet affordable, you might want to consider porcelain fillings. Conversely, severe decay would require glass ionomer fillings.