The two main types of dental fillings are composite resin and amalgam metallic alloy. Dentists and patients often refer to these as “white” and “silver” fillings because of their color.
Since 1904 the most common dental filling for a cavity has been a metal, dental amalgam filling. Amalgam fillings are black or silver in colour.
Amalgam alloy fillings are made from a mixture of copper, silver, tin and elemental (safe) mercury. They are held in place by the shape of the cavity.
Silver in amalgam fillings can tarnish and percolate into the tooth over long periods of time causing the eventual darkening of the whole tooth.
A composite filling is a tooth-colored plastic and glass mixture used to restore decayed teeth.
Composites are often used in cosmetic dentistry to improve the smile by changing the color of teeth that are starting to look stained or to reshape disfigured teeth.
A composite (tooth colored) filling is used to repair a tooth that is affected by decay, cracks, fractures, etc. First the decayed (or chipped, or cracked) portion of the tooth will be removed, then it is filled with a composite filling.
Tooth-colored fillings (composite resins) are very durable. They provide good resistance to fractures in small to mid-size dental fillings. It’s a good way to repair teeth that need to withstand moderate pressure from the stresses and strains of chewing food. They can be used on either front or back teeth.
What Are The Advantages Of Composites?
Composite fillings are a good choice for people who want their tooth cavity fillings or minor tooth restorations to look more natural.
Dentists can blend shades to create a color nearly identical to that of the actual tooth.
Composites bind to the tooth and support the remaining tooth structure. This helps prevent further damage and possible breakage of the tooth.
As a bonus, composite resins insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes.
Why People Like White Fillings
Even though amalgam fillings are a little less expensive, people generally prefer natural, tooth coloured “white” fillings.
They look more natural and don’t require your dentist to remove as much tooth structure.
With a good color match, it’s almost impossible to see that the tooth had to be restored. And because these fillings bond directly to the enamel, they’re strong and resist wear and tear.
The new composite fillings that have come out recently can easily last more than five years.
Most insurance companies will cover the added cost of composite fillings when done on your front teeth, but some carriers will only pay the allowance for an amalgam if the composite is used for a posterior tooth.
Composites need to be protected from changes in color, so make a point to avoid smoking, coffee, teas and other foods that can stain – such as blueberries and red wine.
Who Needs Dental Fillings?
If your teeth are chipped, cracked or damaged by tooth decay, one option could be to use dental fillings.
Large cavities are obvious and often painful, but small pinhole cavities and hard-to-see areas between teeth may also need attention.
It’s a good idea to consult your dentist if you have:
- Visible holes or dark spots on teeth
- Visible chips or cracks
- Sensitivity to heat and cold
- Sharp pain when biting down on the affected tooth
- A constant dull pain or ache
Any of these symptoms could mean you have cavities, tooth decay or other need for tooth restoration.
Dental X-rays, probes and dyes can reveal areas that need dental restoration, so your dentist can find cavities and sites of tooth decay that you may not see in the mirror.
Since your dentist is looking at your teeth from the outside, they can see areas that you may not be able to spot. This is why regular check-ups by a dentist are vital for your oral health.
Regular visits allow the dentist to get to know your oral health. This allows them to see small problems before they become large ones.
Cavities are the most common reason for dental fillings but they are not the only reason.
Your dentist may recommend reconstructive work involving amalgam or composite fillings if you grind your teeth, bite your nails or use your teeth as tools. These habits can erode the chewing surfaces of your teeth enough to need a filling to restore the look and functionality of your teeth.
There are many types of filling materials available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. You and your dentist can discuss the best options for restoring your teeth.
As with most dental restorations, composite fillings are not permanent and may someday have to be replaced. They are very durable, and will last many years, giving you a long lasting, beautiful smile.
Give us a call to have your teeth checked. We will do a thorough examination and give you the options suitable for your dental health so you can make an informed decision.Leave a reply →