If a tooth has suffered decay leading to a cavity or fracture, general dentists turn to fillings to repair the damage. Fillings work to support the structure of the tooth while preventing further decay. Filling materials vary, and the type recommended by your dentist may depend on many factors, including the location of the tooth defect, the amount of damage to the tooth and cost of insurance.
There are five different types of fillings offered by general dentists: Silver, gold, composite, ceramic, and glass isomer.
Also called silver amalgams, these fillings are the most common type used in dentistry. Made of 50% mercury and 50% of a mixture of zinc, copper, tin and silver, they are strong and durable, lasting up to 15 years and withstanding normal chewing forces. These fillings are also less expensive than other types.
However, silver fillings tend to respond to extreme heat and cold. Due to constantly expanding and contracting when in contact with extreme temperatures, the fillings increase the chances of cracks or fractures occurring within the repaired tooth.
More expensive than silver fillings, gold fillings provide the same amount of strength and durability. However, general dentists may require more than one visit to complete the process. These fillings can cause issues when placed next to teeth that have silver fillings. When mixed with the moisture of the mouth, teeth that are filled with alternate metals can cause an electrical shock inside the mouth called galvanic shock. While rare, this effect can still be a concern for both patient and dentist.
Made of resin and plastic, composite fillings are gaining popularity for being able to match the natural color of teeth. Unlike metal fillings, composite fillings do not require further damage to healthy portions of the tooth to secure the materials. Composites are chemically bonded to the tooth through a hardening process under a special ultraviolet light.
Also called onlays or inlays, ceramic fillings are made of porcelain. They can resemble the natural color of the teeth but are more resistant to food staining when compared to composite fillings. The porcelain material is not as strong as composite fillings so healthy tooth portions must be removed to ensure the filling is protected from wear and tear.
Glass isomer fillings
Popular among dentists in the field of pediatrics, glass isomer fillings can be used to repair damage to a child’s non-permanent teeth. These fillings are more susceptible to signs of wear and tear but can release fluoride within the tooth. Fluoride is important to strengthen the teeth and protect against from decay.
Dental fillings can be useful when repairing damage due to cavities, fractures, or tooth erosion. Depending on the type of repair necessary, general dentists can offer a filling material that suits the patient’s needs. With advancements in the dentistry world, fillings can provide a strong and durable solution while giving patients the appealing smile they desire.
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