Getting your cavities treated and filled can be a miserable process. The toothache that brought you to the dentist’s office was painful enough, and now you’ll have to sit through the treatment with your mouth open as the dentist cleans up your tooth, and leave your jaw numb for a few hours afterward.
Most commonly, dental fillings are used to fill up the cavity in the tooth but are also used for other things such as repairing teeth that have been damaged by grinding or replacing part of it. In the past, there were limited options getting your teeth filled, but now there are quite a few.
Amalgam is a composite material made of mercury, silver, and several other metals. These have been used by dentists for many years and is also the most researched material for filling. Amalgam fillings are a good option because they are very strong, and less likely to break off, which makes them ideal for teeth at the back of the mouth like morals that take care of all the chewing. Since amalgam is made of a combination of metals, it can be visible when you open your mouth, and can also weaken the teeth in some cases. However, amalgam is one of the least expensive options for filling material.
Composite fillings are also called filled resins and are a combination of glass or quartz filler, which is usually made to match the color of the tooth itself, so it isn’t noticeable. Composite fillings are also relatively durable, though not as much as amalgam fillings, and can be used in teeth that need small repairs and are not heavily involved in chewing.
Metal fillings are fairly common, with gold or silver ones being the most preferred by many people. Gold fillings can be very expensive but have a better appearance than silver amalgam, so people tend to prefer these. While metal fillings can be very noticeable, they are extremely durable and can last up to 10-15 years before they need replacement.
Ceramic fillings are usually made of porcelain and are made to be the same color as the tooth. They are less likely to stain the tooth over time than a composite filling but are extremely expensive. Some ceramic fillings may even be as costly as gold fillings.
Acrylic and glass can be blended together to make a filling material that has the unique property of releasing fluoride, which is beneficial and helps protect the teeth further. The downside to this is that glass ionomer fillings are significantly less durable, and have to be replaced in a few years. This is why they are not used on teeth that have an active role to play in chewing since the filling material will wear off soon.
Getting your teeth filled can be painful, and ideally, you’d want to avoid being stuck in such a situation at all. Whether you have tooth fillings or not, taking care of your oral hygiene is important and should not be neglected.