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A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. When a dentist gives you a filling, he or she first removes the decayed tooth material, cleans the affected area, and then fills the cleaned out cavity with a filling material. By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include gold, porcelain, composite resin (tooth-colored fillings), and amalgam (a material made of several different alloys). No one type of filling is best for everyone. What's right for you will be determined by the extent of the repair, whether you have allergies to certain materials, where in your mouth the filling is needed, and the cost. According to the ADA over 91% of Americans have had at least one filling in their lifetime. Our office educates patients on not only ways to prevent cavities but also different ways to treat them. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of several different filling materials.
These fillings are made to order in a laboratory and then cemented into place. Gold has long been the standard for filling material and is well tolerated by gum tissues. Another advantage to using gold is its ability to last for more than 20 years, which far exceeds any other filling type. However, it is often the most expensive choice and requires multiple visits. It also is very noticeable and patients generally do not want to use it in the visible areas of their mouth.
Amalgam (silver) fillings:
Very strong filling material and its durability is that of gold. Amalgam is also the least expensive filling material. It is often used in moist areas of the mouth such as by the gum line because other filling material is very hard to cure in that type of an environment. However, due to its dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite fillings and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as front teeth. Like gold fillings, they are usually used on your back molars where most of your chewing is done and would require a stronger material.
Composite (plastic) resins:
These are matched to be the same color as your teeth and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired. The ingredients are placed directly into the cavity, where they are hardened using a special light. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco, and do not last as long as other types of fillings.
Porcelain is produced to order in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the color of the tooth and resist staining. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth. Their cost is similar to gold.
If you think you are in need of a filling or currently have fillings that are wearing out, consult with your dental professional about your different options. Each filling will be different and have unique benefits, and knowing your options will help you make a better decision. Jackson Family Dentistry offers consultations at no charge to patients who are unsure of their options. If you would like to schedule a consultation, give us a call today! We have an awesome team ready to help with your dental concerns.