Your dentist just broke the bad news. You have a cavity and you need fillings. What a nightmare, right? So now, you need to choose the right filling for your damaged teeth, but what exactly is a filling.
When you have tooth decay, it needs to be removed because it may leave a big hole in your tooth. Your dentist will recommend the ideal tooth filling for you based on a number of factors, which includes the extent of the repair, cost, and where the filling is needed in your mouth.
Due to its low cost and durability, this type of filling is very popular among dentists, other than the fact that this is the most widely known filling material. Amalgam is composed of silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury, which is almost 50% of the mixture. They may not be as aesthetically pleasing but they have a lifespan of 15 years or more and are easy to apply. One of the downsides of this material, apart from the high mercury content, is that it is prone to expansion and contraction. This can crack your tooth which will cause food and bacteria to seep in and get trapped, allowing cavities to form.
A composite tooth filling is composed of plastic and fine glass particles. It is popular for its tooth-colored appearance which can be made to match the colour of your teeth. Your dentist will use a special curing light to harden the soft material in just seconds. Although composite fillings are more expensive than silver amalgam and not as durable, it is becoming the most common type of dental filling used. You would typically need to replace composite fillings every five years or so.
This type of filling is made of porcelain. This material is more expensive than other filling materials but it is both durable and aesthetically pleasing. It is tooth-colored and more stain and abrasion resistant than composite resin but is more brittle. It also needs to be large enough to prevent it from breaking. The tooth will need to be reduced significantly so that the extra bulk will have room.
This type of material is made up of acrylic and a component of glass called fluoroaluminosilicate. It usually lasts less than 5 years only which makes it a good choice for children whose teeth are still changing. Glass ionomers help protect the tooth from further decay by releasing fluoride but they are weaker than composite resin. It is more like to fracture from wear.
Gold fillings are sturdy and non-corrosive materials and can last for more than 15 years, but can be costly. It is also not as easily placed on your tooth as it may take more than one visit to the dentist to have it fitted properly. As other materials that match the colour of your teeth is gaining more popularity, it will be difficult to find a dentist that still offers gold foil as an option.
Tooth fillings may help fix teeth damaged by decay and prevent further infection. It is best to arm yourself with the right information.