The teeth are susceptible to damage due to their constant use and other factors such as abuse, improper care, accidents, etc. Cavities left behind by decayed teeth and cracked/worn down/broken teeth are examples of defects affecting the teeth. However, defective teeth cannot be left the way they are as they have to be repaired and restored to help them continue to carry out their functions. Dental fillings help to correct these defects.
Dental fillings are dental treatment materials made of metal, plastics, or other materials to repair and restore missing or damaged teeth structures. Dental fillings can fill cavities (the hole left behind by decayed teeth). They are also used to repair worn down/cracked/broken teeth from misuse, accidents, or improper care.
While dental fillings are not initially for cosmetic purposes, they can improve the appearance of the teeth while fixing the teeth’ structure. Moreover, white fillings are a kind of cosmetic filling because they blend in with teeth color.
There are different types of dental fillings, and these are classified based on the materials for making them. The different types of dental fillings include:
Amalgam fillings are popular and widely researched. Contrary to its name, it is not made of silver only. Silver amalgam fillings combine zinc, tin, copper, and mercury materials. Its popularity is not farfetched as it is known to last longer than other types of fillings while being affordable. Amalgam fillings can withstand chewing forces, and they last for as long as 10-15 years. However, this type of filling is not aesthetically pleasing, and it responds to temperature changes by contracting and expanding, causing the teeth to crack.
This filling from porcelain; therefore, it is aesthetically attractive and can take the natural color. Although they cost more than other fillings, they are tooth-colored and resistant to stains and abrasions. However, ceramic fillings are brittle and cover large cavities to avoid breakage.
This filling from a mix of glass and acrylic. Since glass ionomers release fluoride, which helps protect the teeth from further decay, it is a suitable option for fillings below the gum line and in young children. While glass ionomer fillings can be cheaper than some other types of fillings, they are weaker and prone to wear and tear. Generally, they last for five years or less.
As expected, gold fillings are expensive and are not very common. Gold fillings can cost ten times more than silver amalgam fillings. They require more office visits than other fillings and cannot fit the color of the teeth. However, they can withstand any chewing force, and they are very durable. Gold fillings can last for at least 10 to 15 years, not corrode.
This filling is made from plastic and resin materials. Also known as white fillings, it is a widespread option because it can be customized to match the color of a patient’s existing natural teeth. It is placed inside the tooth when soft and then hardened with a bright curing light. Composite fillings bond well with the tooth structure and provide additional support. While undergoing a dental procedure for composite fillings, less tooth structure needs to be removed than amalgam fillings. However, this type of dental filling is not as durable as other types. It also takes a longer time to apply and might require additional visits. Composite fillings can be subject to chipping and cost twice as much as amalgam fillings.