Metals in Your Mouth: The Materials of Dental Fillings

Dental FillingsWhen it comes to dealing with cavity, dental health and tooth fillings are concerned. It is through the use of dental fillings that dentists get to fix cracked and broken teeth.

In a nutshell, the process has your dentist treating the cavity by removing the decayed portion of the tooth and then repairing the area with dental fillings. The said treatment involves a number of steps and a variety of materials.

The Types of Filling Materials

The Priory Dental Practice lists down the four major types of fillings: silver or amalgam; gold; ceramic or porcelain; and white or composite. Each material has a distinct characteristic that may be more suitable for you.

  • Amalgam fillings are reliable and durable, although dentists are using these materials less because composite dental fillings have become more popular for their safety and efficiency. Amalgam fillings are dark silver in colour and composed of a silver-tin alloy, copper and mercury. Dentists have been using these materials for more than a hundred years for its cost effective and practical use. With proper care, these fillings may last for more than 20 years.
  • Gold fillings include silver and palladium in its mixture as a filling. These may last for as long as 30 years, relative to one’s oral hygiene and dental care. Patients also prefer to use gold for its shine and swagger.
  • Composite fillings are tooth coloured and provide an aesthetic advantage of obscurity and likeness. In addition, they provide a conservative solution as dentists can place them with less tooth removal. This is because composite resins can fill up smaller areas, while amalgam requires a minimum filling size. The disadvantage of choosing this type of material, though, is its durability. Composite fillings have a shorter life span because they require an environment that is dry.
  • Porcelain fillings are the preferred material when a large percentage of the tooth is missing. As a material also used in inlays, onlays and crowns, porcelain is a combination of beautiful aesthetics and fortified durability meant for restorations when traditional fillings are unavailable. Similar to composites, these require less tooth removal as well.

Your dentist may also use a sturdy combination of materials like the ones mentioned; gold, porcelain, silver, tin, zinc and copper in a mixture of alloys. There are also newer types such as glass ionomer, tooth-coloured, plastic and composite resin fillings. Discuss with your dentist to see which material suits your needs.