Tooth fillings are among the most common types of oral materials used in dentistry for repairing and restoring teeth. Over the years, many patients have benefited from tooth fillings, allowing them to keep their natural teeth for a much longer time in their lives.
One of the beauties of using tooth fillings in dentistry is their versatility. Tooth fillings come in different types, which provides various alternatives for patients to choose from based on their personal preferences.
What Are Dental Fillings?
They are oral materials used on teeth to repair and restore them. Fillings are often the go-to dental materials for treating damaged teeth. For thousands of patients that get tooth fillings, the underlying dental problem is dental decay. When dental cavities begin to form on teeth, it does not take long before the insides of the tooth are damaged. The role of dental fillings, therefore, is to create a barrier on teeth by sealing the cavity and preventing any entry of bacteria to the insides of the tooth.
Dental fillings come in different sizes. Ideally, the larger the cavity, the larger the tooth filling used to treat it. A small dental filling is ultimately more manageable than a large one. This is why you must consider getting your treatment early before the cavity in your tooth widens.
What Are the Different Types of Dental Fillings?
The type of dental filling material used to manufacture a tooth filling is what distinguishes them. Dental fillings common in dentistry are:
- Amalgam tooth filling – it is the most common type, used on thousands of patients’ teeth. They are commonly known as silver fillings since silver is the primary component in the material used to make them. However, amalgams feature a metal alloy, which means there are other metals aside from silver, including mercury, copper, and zinc. These filings are sturdy and very popular for treating back teeth, with a durability of up to 10 years or longer.
- Gold fillings – they are a very expensive alternative to silver fillings. Instead of silver, these tooth fillings feature gold as the primary material. This is the reason why gold fillings are considered luxurious tooth applications. They are praised for their sturdiness, as well as their longevity. However, they can be pretty expensive, so that not all patients can afford to get gold fillings.
- Composite tooth fillings – they feature composite resin material. The resin is tooth-colored, which allows your dentist to pick a shade of tooth filling that closest matches that of your natural teeth for an aesthetically appealing result. These fillings are not as sturdy as silver or gold fillings. It is the cosmetic advantage that makes composite tooth fillings popular in dentistry. The nature of the material also makes them suitable for repairing and restoring the front teeth. The composite fillings are, however, pretty costly, compared to silver fillings.
- Ceramic tooth fillings – they feature porcelain as the primary material. Porcelain is a very popular material in the manufacture of different oral appliances. This material is also tooth-colored, presenting cosmetic advantages to patients. The porcelain also makes for sturdier tooth fillings than composite fillings, which can be used on either the front or back teeth. Still, ceramic tooth fillings are more expensive than silver fillings.
- Glass ionomers fillings – they are also known as acrylic fillings. They are the least durable of all types of fillings, lasting for about 5 years. They feature a glass-like material and are perfect for use on children’s teeth. A unique advantage with these types of dental fillings is that they release fluoride on teeth. Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps strengthen teeth and protect them from dental cavities. This advantage proves very paramount for preventive dental care in pediatric dentistry.
Choosing the Right Dental Fillings
There is no particular dental filling that is best suited for all patients. Usually, it depends on your preferences. Some of the factors to influence your decision are:
- Location of the filling – you should opt for a cosmetically pleasing filling for your front teeth more than is the case for back teeth.
- The sturdiness of the material – for back teeth treatment, you need a strong filling that can withstand frequent chewing.
- Durability – the longer a filling can serve you with few or no complications, the better.
- Budget – some fillings are more expensive than others.