Imagine visiting Dr. Davis for a routine cleaning and hearing, “You’ve got a cavity.” It isn’t ever something you want to hear. But did you know there are five different types of fillings to choose from to restore a tooth?
What is a filling?
If Dr. Davis tells you that you have a cavity, he’s telling you one of your teeth has decay present. That decay needs to be removed. A filling needs to replace the decay that was removed to restore the tooth. It is the most conservative way to restore a tooth.
Are there more than 2 types of fillings?
Silver amalgam and composite fillings are the two most common types. But there are also three other options available that you may or may not be aware of.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each of the five types:
1. Silver amalgam is the most widely used type of filling. Amalgam is comprised of silver, tin, zinc, copper, and 50% mercury.
- It is low in cost, strong and durable. These three factors make silver amalgam popular among dentists. They typically last fifteen years or longer.
- Amalgam is fairly easy to place in the tooth.
- There is no concern about contamination from saliva or blood.
- They are not pleasing to the eye.
- The material is prone to expansion and contraction making it more likely to cause your tooth to crack. This fluctuation creates spaces between fillings and teeth allowing food and bacteria to become trapped and encourages cavities to form.
- The presence of mercury in this type of filling is controversial.
2. Composite is becoming the most commonly used material in dental fillings. Dentists cure (harden) the soft material using a bright blue light.
- The material is tooth-colored and can be matched to the shade of existing teeth.
- Composite fillings are not as durable or long lasting as silver amalgam.
- They are made of a resin/plastic material which makes them more expensive than silver amalgam.
- They typically need to be replaced every five years or so.
3. Ceramic fillings are made of porcelain and are referred to as inlays or onlays.
- They are both durable and pleasing to the eye.
- Ceramics are tooth-colored and more resistant to staining and abrasion than composite resin.
- The material is more expensive than other filling materials.
- Ceramic is more brittle than composite fillings.
- It needs to be large enough to prevent it from breaking, so the tooth must be reduced in size to make room for the extra bulk.
4. Glass ionomers are made of glass and acrylic.
- Glass ionomers are a good choice for children whose teeth are still changing.
- They release fluoride, which can help protect the tooth from further decay.
- Glass ionomers are much weaker than composite resin and more likely to wear or fracture.
- Traditional glass ionomer does not match your tooth color as precisely as composite resin.
- Typically, this type of filling lasts less than 5 years.
5. Gold fillings are not as commonly used.
- The gold material is sturdy and non-corrosive.
- They can last over 15 years.
- A gold filling is expensive.
- Having the gold filling placed is not convenient. It takes more than 1 office visit to fit them properly.
- It is difficult to find a dentist who offers gold foil because it is being replaced by other materials that match the color of your teeth.
We here at Davis Dental encourage you to brush twice daily and floss at least once daily to avoid cavities in the first place. However, cavities happen. Now you know about the five types of fillings. Call Davis Dental Monday through Thursday between 8:00am and 5:00pm at (307) 634-3488 today to schedule your routine cleaning if you aren’t already scheduled. Feel free to ask us about the fillings we offer our patients. We’d be more than happy to answer your questions.