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Dental Fillings – What is Best for Your Teeth?

Dental Fillings – What is Best for Your Teeth?

Dental fillings are used to repair teeth that are cracked, worn down, or have cavity damage. There are several types of fillings, and your dentist will help you decide on the best one depending on how much tooth damage there is, the location of the damage, and your budget or insurance coverage.

Gold

  • Advantages
    • Durable – it doesn’t corrode; lasts 10 to 15 years, and even longer.
    • Strong enough to withstand maximum pressure from chewing.
    • Depending on the patient, gold may be more pleasing to the eye than silver fillings.
  • Disadvantages
    • Expensive; according to Medicine.net, gold fillings can cost 10 times more than amalgam fillings.
    • Treatment requires two or more visits to the dentist.
    • The gold hue make the filling conspicuous, and some patients do not consider the color pleasing to the eye.
    • Cannot be used to treat a tooth which sits beside one with an amalgam filling, as there is a slim chance that the silver in the latter can interact with the gold and cause galvanic shock, a type of electric current.

Silver/Amalgam

  • Advantages
    • Durable; can last up to 15 years.
    • Strong enough to withstand maximum pressure from chewing.
    • Cheapest type of filling.  
  • Disadvantages
    • The silver color eventually becomes darker and more conspicuous, resulting in poor aesthetics.
    • The amalgam can cause discoloration of the surrounding tooth structure.
    • Filling in a cavity with the amalgam usually involves removal of healthy parts of the tooth in order to accommodate the filling.
    • The amalgam filling is more susceptible to cracks and fractures from regular exposure to hot and cold liquids.
    • The amalgam filling contains “about 50 percent mercury, along with tin, copper, silver or zinc,” and about 1% of the population are allergic to mercury.  

Composite Fillings

  • Advantages
    • The composite can be shaded to match the color of the patient’s teeth so the end-product looks more natural; ideal for treating parts of teeth that are always visible.
    • Also an ideal material for repairing broken, chipped, or worn teeth.
    • Composite fillings provide additional support to the tooth when it forms a chemical bond with its structure.
  • Disadvantages
    • Composite fillings only last a minimum of 5 years.
    • Not suitable for teeth that are constantly subjected to the pressures of chewing and biting.
    • Susceptible to staining.
    • The composite materials can actually cause chipping of a tooth.
    • Composite fillings are more expensive than amalgam fillings.

Ceramic/Porcelain

  • Advantages
    • Porcelain fillings provide a more natural look.
    • More resistant to staining than composite fillings.
    • Can last more than 15 years.
  • Disadvantages
    • More fragile than gold fillings.
    • More abrasive than composite fillings.
    • Almost as expensive as gold fillings.

Glass Ionomer

  • Advantages
    • Glass ionomer fillings release fluoride, helping protect tooth from decay and, therefore, are ideal for primary teeth of children.
    • Also ideal for filling in small areas, particularly those below the gum line.
    • Costs about as much as composite fillings.
  • Disadvantages
    • Weaker than composite fillings and more susceptible to wear and fractures.
    • Only lasts about 5 years.

Your dentist can help you decide which type of filling will be best suited to your tooth-restoration needs. Proper care is even more important when you have fillings, in order to prevent damage. Regular brushing, flossing, and visits to your dentist should be religiously practiced.

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