Fillings are common in the world of dentistry – after all, there are so many circumstances where you might need one. For example, your tooth might have been damaged, or it could have decayed and developed cavities in which case a filling is used to repair it and restore the functionality of the tooth. But which filling is right for you? There is more than one type, and there are pros and cons to each. Find out more about our fillings and which is the most appropriate for your particular tooth complaint.
Why do you need a filling?
If your tooth has become damaged, decayed or defective it may have cracks or weaknesses, which if left untreated would result in a lot of pain and discomfort as the nerve would become exposed. A filling is used to repair the tooth, and to restore the function and aesthetic so that you can continue to use it for biting and chewing, and of course feel confident about it if it’s in a visible part of your mouth. Because decay is normally painless (until it reaches the nerve) you might not realise you even need a filling, until your dentist assesses you at a scheduled check up. It’s always preferable to identify the need for a filling and repair it before any bacteria can infiltrate the nerve and cause pain or infection.
What filling materials types are available?
Now that your dentist has identified the need for a filling, what type of filling should you have?
- Silver fillings (amalgam)
These metal fillings have been used for years to effectively repair teeth. They are made of mercury and other metals including zinc, copper, silver and tin which is what makes them very strong and hard wearing. Mercury-based fillings have received some negative attention recently due to potential health concerns, however very low levels of mercury shouldn’t cause any ill effects.
On the plus side, silver fillings are cheaper than other types of fillings, they have a long life span making them ideal for a permanent fix, and because of their strength it makes them very resistant to chewing and grinding. One additional point to note is that in large fillings, this material can leave the remaining tooth structure in a very weak condition, which gives it a higher risk of fracture.
- White filling (composite resin)
White fillings, or composite fillings, are very popular now as they blend seamlessly with the rest of your teeth, rendering them practically invisible in your mouth. This composite material is moulded as a soft putty into the tooth cavity and then chemically bonded to the tooth by hardening with a blue light (called a curing process) to make it a more reliable fit. These discreet fillings also benefit the patient by not having any of the mercury-associated health concerns attached to them.
They are not recommended however for teeth which aren’t strong or in good condition, as this filling could weaken them further, and they may discolour with age so that your teeth are noticeably whiter then the filling (you can whiten your teeth to restore their whiteness but the whitening gel only lightens natural dental tissue, and not dental restorations).
- Porcelain fillings
Porcelain fillings are the epitome of dental restorations, as they are stronger and last longer than the other two types of fillings and are sometimes the only option for very badly damaged teeth. They look and feel like real teeth, however for this reason they also cost more than other fillings.
Usually, it can take more than one visit to properly prepare and complete this type of restoration, however Docklands Dental are one of very few practices who offer CEREC (Ceramic Reconstruction) services, which allows us to produce a porcelain restoration in just one visit. Find out more about this service and how it could be of benefit to you by visiting our website.
If you still have questions about which filling is right for you, don’t hesitate to talk through the options with your dentist who will be able to advise you.