Most people dread visiting a dentist, especially if they have a cavity that requires filling. However, with modern dentistry equipment, materials, and procedures, restoring your teeth for healthier gums is simpler.
Besides uncertainty about the pain and duration of the process, people wonder about the filling materials. If you have an upcoming dental appointment and are wondering what are fillings made from and when they are required, here’s a complete guide.
What material are fillings made from?
Whenever you develop a cavity in your tooth, a dentist will remove the decaying matter and fill the space to restore the tooth. These fillings are also sometimes used to repair cracked teeth or those that wear from uncontrollable grinding.
There are various materials dentists use to fill the cavity. They include:
1. Silver Fillings
Also known as amalgams, they are silver-coloured and combine mercury, silver alloy, tin, and copper in small percentages. These last over ten years and are likely to outlast composites. Most people choose them as they are the most affordable.
2. Tooth-Colour Composites
Composites dental fillings are also popular as they match the teeth colour, keeping one’s smile intact and appearing natural. Dentists recommend them for patients who are repairing front teeth or other visible ones. They add silica, powdered glass, and ceramic particles to a resin base to make the composite filling. Although composites are aesthetically better looking, they are not permanent and may require frequent replacement.
3. Gold Fillings
Although gold fillings are the most expensive, they last the longest and will not stain or corrode. They also withstand any chewing force, although most people find they stand out more due to the bright colour.
4. Ceramic Fillings
Also known as porcelain fillings, these are similar to composite in that they match the colour of teeth. However, they are more stain resistant than composite but can cost almost as much as gold fillings.
5. Glass Ionomer Fillings
These fillings use a glass material and acrylic and are suitable for below-the-gum fillings or on children’s teeth. They contain fluoride, which can help protect the teeth from more decay. However, they wear quickly and may last even shorter than composites.
When does one require a filling?
Unfortunately, dental decay takes time to show symptoms, and your tooth requires a filling by the time you discover it. However, if you experience the typical symptoms below, call your dentist for a consultation.
- Tooth sensitivity when you consume cold, hot, acidic, or sweet food.
- If you notice a previous tooth filling has fallen out.
- If you have a cracked tooth that causes toothache.
- Sharp or throbbing pain when you bite or chew.
- If you notice a dark hole in your tooth.
Can one choose the filling material they want?
You can choose the filling material you would like the dentist to use and discuss this with their consultation. However, your choice depends on several factors. These include:
- Where the decay is and the extent of damage to the tooth.
- Cost of the preferred filling material.
- If your medical insurance covers the procedure.
- The dentist’s recommendation after consultation – they will determine which one will work best for you.
If you ever experience any of the above symptoms or are overdue for a routine dental appointment, contact your dentist immediately. If you have a cavity, they will advise on the available dental filling materials that suit you. Remember, regular check-ups will keep your teeth healthy for longer.