Dental fillings are used to fill up the hole left after a decayed part of the teeth are removed. It can also be used to fix cavities, worn, cracked or chipped teeth. There are plenty of filling materials available. Your choice of filling materials will be determined by your budget, extent of damage and dentist’s recommendation. Before your next appointment, learn the different types of fillings and weigh their suitability for you.
Fillings That Look Like Your Teeth
Composite fillings are popular because your dentist can match the color of the composite to blend in with the surrounding teeth. They are made from a resin plastic material and require replacement every five years. Composite fillings are best suited for small to medium cavities or for a tooth that is regularly used for chewing. It requires little drilling since it can be bonded in place. This makes it ideal for those with a phobia for dental work. Composite fillings, just like your teeth, can get discolored or stained over time.
Fillings That Release Fluoride
These are newer materials called Glass Ionomers. They are made of acrylic acids and fine-glass powders. Glass ionomers are good for kids because they release fluoride which is essential for strong healthy teeth and protects teeth from further decay. They are not as strong as composite fillings and therefore cannot be used for surfaces that undergo lots of chewing. They can also be colored to match your teeth though not as precisely as composite fillings.
Crowns That Look Like Your Teeth
Also known as a crown, inlay, or veneer, these materials are typically porcelain, ceramic, or another glass-like substance. They are durable and pleasing to the eyes. They are also expensive and require several visits to the dentist to fit. Porcelain is used for veneers which are thin shells that fit over your teeth surface.
Affordable, Long-Lasting Fillings
These filling materials are made from an amalgam of silver, copper, zinc, tin, and mercury. Popular with dentists, they are rugged, long-lasting and affordable. They are also easy to put in and can be used for chewing surfaces. They are more conspicuous because of the silver color. There are safety concerns over the presence of mercury in the amalgam, but the American Dental Associations confirms the material to be safe.
Affordable Crowns, Fixed Bridges and Partials
Also known as silver fillings, they look like silver but are actually made of a mixture of chemicals that look like silver. They are mostly used for crowns, fixed bridges, and partial dentures. The material is sturdy, durable and inexpensive. It also increases your teeth’s sensitivity to heat and cold.
Gold Crowns, Inlays and Bridges
These are made of gold and are expensive, durable and resistant to stain. They take more than a visit to install but can last for more than 15 years. They are mostly hidden away at the back teeth since the color won’t match your teeth.
Armed with this information, you will be able to make enlightened decisions, together with your dentist, on the best filling materials to use for your teeth.