All About Dental Fillings
Dental fillings are used to fill cavities in teeth caused by tooth decay. Cavities are more than just a problem for children with sugary diets. As we age, gums tend to recede from teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay-causing gum disease.
For both children and adults, modern dental fillings are made of various materials, each with their own pros and cons. If you need dental fillings, Serene Dental Care’s professionals are happy to discuss all your options.
Which Dental Filling Is Right for You?
When considering the different types of dental fillings, there are a variety of functional and esthetic factors to be aware of. Here are the pros and cons for the three common types of dental fillings: gold, silver amalgam and composites.
Gold is a malleable metal capable of creating strong fillings.
- Many people, though not all, like the look of gold fillings.
- Gold does not corrode, thus lasting for as long as 15 years or more.
- The material is strong and unlikely to be damaged by the force applied when chewing.
- The biggest difference between gold and other materials is price. Compared to silver amalgam, gold fillings may cost as much as 10 times more.
- Gold dental fillings require two dental visits to be fully installed.
- Though not common, if a gold filling is close to a silver amalgam filling, saliva in the mouth can cause a circuit to form, creating a painful galvanic shock as electricity passes between them.
Silver amalgam dental fillings are primarily made of mercury, followed by silver, tin, zinc, copper and other trace metals. It is important to note that despite controversy and worry about mercury in fillings, the level of mercury released by silver amalgam fillings is generally negligible, though allergies to the material can cause complications.
The American Dental Association lists silver amalgam fillings as safe and durable.
- Amalgam, like gold, can last upwards of 15 years.
- Amalgam is strong enough to withstand the force of chewing.
- The biggest difference between gold and composite fillings and silver amalgam dental fillings is price: silver is much less expensive. Silver is the cheapest option available in most cases.
- The color of metal fillings often makes them too noticeable, and thus unsightly, for many patients.
- Amalgam’s color can cause adjacent teeth to become slightly greyish.
- Allergic reactions occur in about 1% of patients, a response to the mercury present in the filling.
Composite Dental Fillings
Perhaps the most popular type of filling, composites are made of a mixture of glass and plastic.
- The most obvious advantage of composite fillings is that they are the color of teeth.
- Rather than filling in the cavity like metal fillings, composites actually chemically bond to the tooth, making them stronger than otherwise.
- With any filling, dentists must drill away decayed areas of a tooth to make a healthy space for dental filling installation. With composites, the amount of tooth drilled is less than metal.
- The materials of composites, glass and plastic, are not as strong as gold or silver, causing composite fillings to require replacement after about 5 years.
- Composites can be around twice as expensive as silver, though not nearly as costly as gold.
- While composites do not require multiple visits, the process of installing the filling can take as much as 20 minutes longer than silver.
Serene Dental Is Here to Help
After a dental exam, your dentist will go over the best options for treating cavities based on your individual circumstances. Gold, silver amalgam and composites are not the only types of dental fillings available. Ceramic and glass ionomer fillings are also potential options. Your dentist will know best as to which type will be most helpful to you.