Over time, bacteria and plaque can cause decay in our teeth. If left untreated, that decay can cause gum disease, bad breath, and other serious health concerns in and outside our mouths. This occurrence is known as a cavity, and your dentist will be able to assess and treat all types of cavities with something called a filling. Different types of dental fillings are also used to repair cracked and broken teeth that may have become worn down over the years.
The tooth is first numbered, and then your dentist will drill into the tooth to remove all signs of decay. After which, the cavity left open from decay removal will be filled. There are many different types of dental fillings, suitable for different situations. There are two types of indirect fillings. The first type, inlays, feature dental work within the cusps of the surface of the tooth. On the other hand, onlays cover more than one cusp, involve much more extensive work, and are often considered partial crowns.
Many practices offer cast gold fillings. While these are expensive, they are very long lasting, and can protect the cavity of a tooth for up to 15 years (sometimes longer). Gold is a very strong metal, and can withstand a lot of chewing and other types of wear and tear. Some people also prefer the look of gold to silver colored metals offered. Keep in mind, these types of fillings are expensive, and may require more than one dental visit to properly fill the cavity. Silver is also widely used because it is long lasting and very strong. On the other hand, silver does not match the natural color of teeth, and a small percentage of patients experience an allergic reaction to this type of metal.
Dentists currently use composites to fill cavities, mostly because they are available in natural tooth-colored varieties. Composites provide a nice bond to the tooth that can support the tooth for long lasting use. Composites can also be used to repair cracked or broken teeth, but some dentists feel that they lack the durability of other types of dental fillings. Chipping can occur with this type, and many cost up to twice as much as other filling alternatives.
Ceramic is broadly used by dentists because they are the most stain-resistant, natural looking, and longest lasting. Keep in mind, this type of filling can cost as much as gold. Glass, or acrylic, may be offered to you if your filling falls below the gum line. This type of filling is also recommended for young children, because it releases fluoride into the gum line that can further strengthen and protect teeth and gums. Acrylic does not last as long as other options, however, and my need to be replaced or repaired after as little as five years.
Discuss your options with your dentist before deciding on a filling. All of the filling options may not be available at your dentist's practice, and some of the options may not be the best fit for you. Choose the most practical and natural looking filling for your cavity to maintain a healthy and beautiful smile.
Dental Fillings are divided into two broad categories:
• Conventional Amalgam Fillings: These are also called as silver fillings or even mercury fillings.
• Composite Resin Fillings: These are the colored fillings and are also called as white fillings.
You will mostly find that clinics offering dental fillings prefer doing the composite resin fillings. In the past if you have undergone any amalgam filling then there will be additional procedure to safely remove the amalgam. The reason clinics do not prefer doing the amalgam filling is because it contains mercury which is harmful for the whole body. So the amalgam filling is removed using rubber dam and a high power suction. The idea of using high power suction pump is to avoid mercury entering the body.
However the reason why white fillings is preferred because these are chemically bonded with the teeth and do not require numbing of teeth.
After your dentist has removed the decay, the material for dental fillings will then be placed inside the tooth. Furthermore it will be hardened by curing light.
Undergoing the procedure of dental fillings is a very simple process and you can expect little to no sensitivity. You won’t need more than one visit to the dental clinic. However if you are undergoing multiple fillings then you might have to visit clinic more than once.
Advantage of Dental Fillings
As mentioned before these fillings are also called as white fillings and this is the biggest advantage of undergoing this treatment. They match the natural color of teeth and the appearance as well. Furthermore they also restore 85-90% of the original strength of the tooth. There is no fixed location for their use. They can be used for rear or front teeth because they do not affect the aesthetics of your gums. Dental fillings may cause some sensitivity but then it gets over within two-three weeks.
Cost of Dental Fillings
The cost depends upon the size and depth of fillings. Before the procedure is started your dentist will examine your teeth and will also inform about the number of cavities that will be treated. You will have to make it a point that regular dental visits are taken every six months. The reason is that the white fillings get discolored with time. Furthermore your teeth will be examined for any new cavities.
Care of Dental Fillings
There is no rocket science involved in the care of dental fillings. You have to take care of them just like the regular teeth. Proper dental hygiene is the key here. Make sure that you brush and floss twice a day. Rinsing with fluoride mouthwash ensures that you do not have plaque accumulated. Here you need to take care that neither do you swallow the mouthwash nor do you eat anything for next 30 minutes. Apart from all this visit your dentist regularly to check the condition of fillings.[Top]
Whether you have cavities or know someone who does, you know that they are treated with dental fillings.
Dental fillings, or inlays are made of a variety of substances that "fill in" and cover holes in the tooth from where the tooth decay was extracted.
With advances in dental technology over the years, new, additional filling materials are now available including porcelain, tooth-colored and composite resin dental inlays.
Whatever your current ones are getting worn and are ready to be replaced or you're curious about what your other cavity treatment options are dental out there, here are the pros and cons of each type of dental filling:
The location and amount of the decay, cost of the material, your insurance coverage, and your dentist's recommendation can assist you in determining the type that is best for you.
Cast Gold Fillings
Long-Lasting. These options do not corrode and can last more than 10 years.
Strong. Gold fills can easily withstand the pressure of constant chewing.
Cost. Gold inlays cost more than other types.
Multiple Office Visits. These fillings require a minimum of two dental office visits to properly place.
Galvanic Shock. In rare instances, patients getting a gold filling next to an amalgam (silver) filling may experience the sharp, sudden pain of galvanic shock between the two metals.
Aesthetically Unappealing Look. These inlays stand out from the rest of the patient's teeth, making them easily visible.
Silver Fillings (Amalgams)
Long-Lasting. These can last a minimum of 10 years.
Strong. Amalgam fillings can easily withstand the wear, tear and pressure of everyday chewing and biting.
Cheap. They are less expensive than gold or composite options.
Poor Aesthetics. Like gold, silver amalgam fillings stand out from the rest of the patient's teeth, making them easily noticeable.
More Tooth is Lost. Much of the tooth will need to be removed to make room for amalgam inlays.
Risk of Discoloration. A blueish, grayish hue on the tooth can occur.
Risk of Cracks and Fractures. Amalgam fillings tend to expand and contract more than other filling materials when in contact with cold and heat, causing cracks and fractures of the teeth.
Possible Allergic Reactions. The mercury found in these tooth inlays can cause allergic reactions for some patients.
Aesthetically Pleasing. Composite fillings can be made to match the color of the rest of the tooth, blending in to the rest of the patient's teeth.
Secure Bonding to the Tooth. The chemical bonding of composite provide additional structure and support to the tooth.
Versatility. The tooth-colored composite material can also be used to treat chipped, worn or broken teeth.
More Tooth. Less of the tooth is removed to place these inlays than what is needed for amalgam fillings.
Not as Durable. These composite fillings do not last as long as other types and are less resistant to the pressure of chewing.
Longer to Get Place. Composite inlays require patients to stay in the dental chair longer to have them properly placed.
Multiple Office Visits. If a patient is getting the composite stuffing for inlays and / or onlays, multiple dental office visits.
Risk of Chipping. Composite fills can chip off the tooth.
Expense. These can cost significantly more than other types.
Other Filling Types
There are other types of tooth stuffing treatments. These include porcelain ceramic fillings and glass ionomer fillings. Porcelain ceramic options are very durable, lasting 15 years or more and are resistant to staining. However, they are more abrasive and can cost the same as gold ones.
Glass ionomer fillings are made of a certain type of glass material and acrylic. These options are less expensive and release fluoride that offers more protection to teeth. Glass fills, however, do not last long and are more susceptible to teeth fracture and wear.
Over the years, there has been concern with silver amalgam restorations and the mercury contained in them. Some holistic dentists favor tooth-colored composite ones instead and offer affordable, safe amalgam removal.
Your dentist will be able to examine and diagnose what is happening in your mouth and be able to recommend the right inlay option for you.
The right type of filling for you will depend on many factors including your dental insurance coverage, the location of the filling and personal preferences.[Top]
Although I find myself placing composite fillings 99% of the time, but always review all of the options with patients before deciding on what type of filling material will be placed in their tooth. As a dentist I do not endorse products of one company versus the other, but I find peace of mind using products of reputable manufacturers. Dental fillings must survive in the extreme conditions of the mouth. The human mouth is a perfect environment to test any material to its limits. It is mostly neutral in pH (due to neutralizing effect of saliva), but depending on the food content it can have rapid upward or downward spike in pH. The same thing can happen with temperature swings of up 60 degrees Celsius (from ice cold to coffee hot). Any type of filling material has to end normal chewing forces and also abnormal para functional grinding which can put up to 20 times more pressure on the teeth compared to normal chewing forces.
1. Amalgam Fillings: Composed mainly of Mercury, Silver, Tin, Copper and sometimes Aluminum alloys.
Advantages: Very durable; works in wet or dry environment when placed; releases antibacterial silver ions that fight future cavities that may form around the filling.
Disadvantages: Has mercury; does not match tooth color; most amalgams are not bonded to the tooth which may render back teeth in people who grind their teeth more susceptible to tooth fracture; in general teeth with metal filling may become more sensitive to cold drinks.
2. Composite Fillings: Composed of inorganic fillers such as Silicon Dioxide, organic resins and photo initiators.
Advantages: Color match with the tooth; can be polished to a very high luster; is bonded to the tooth vs. just sitting in it; the only type of filling that can be placed in very shallow cavities (does not require thickness for strength.
Disadvantages: Require dry field during placement; can absorb stains over time; more sensitive than other types of filling to left over decay in the tooth.
3. Porcelain or Ceramic Fillings (Onlay): Composed mainly of inorganic minerals.
Advantages: Excellent color match to the tooth; lasting luster and does not stain easily; very durable but rather to fracture in people who grind or clench their teeth; is bonded to the tooth; can be used on severely broken down teeth; excellent replication of the tooth anatomy since is made by a lab technician.
Disadvantages: Cost (more expensive that amalgam or composite fills); requires two appointments.
4. Gold Fillings (Onlay): Composed of gold alloys in different quantities of gold from 30% up to 90%.
Advantages: The most durable type of dental filling.
Disadvantages: Cost; no color match; takes two appointments.
5. Glass Ionomer Fillings: Composed mostly of inorganic fluoride releasing salts, and organic matrix, may also contain photo initiators ans oxygen inhibitors.
Advantages: Can be placed on wet or dry environment; is white in color (but does not exactly match tooth shade); bonds to the teeth; releases fluoride hence has decay fighting properties.
Disadvantages: Not very durable; used mostly on baby teeth, not the best choice for adult teeth specifically on the load bearing surfaces.
In early 2008 several European countries made the move to ban use of dental amalgam in concern about safety of mercury vapors released during placement on the filling. So far there has not been a strong evidence showing health risks associated with dental amalgam. US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and American Dental Association (ADA) endorse safety of the dental amalgam.[Top]