Nearly 90% of adults in the US will have at least one cavity in their lifetime. If you’ve recently discovered at your latest teeth cleaning exam that you have a cavity, here’s what you need to know about dental fillings for your teeth.
Types of Dental Fillings: What Type of Tooth Filling is Best for Your Teeth
You might only know one type of tooth filling: the silver ones that you can see on someone’s back teeth when they laugh or talk. But there are actually several types of fillings, and depending on your teeth and specific cavity, one or the other might be better for you.
So what are the different types of dental fillings? And what type of tooth filling is best for your teeth? Here are our best answers.
Amalgam Tooth Fillings (Silver Fillings)
One of the most common and durable tooth fillings is amalgam (silver) fillings. Dentists have used this type of filling for many years, especially on back teeth. This type of filling is very durable and can withstand chewing pressure for well over a decade. They’re also affordable, so many patients opt for amalgam fillings.
For many patients, however, they do not want fillings that are readily obvious or visible. Plus, sometimes amalgam tooth fillings can discolor the surrounding tooth or cause cracks or fractures. Patients might also notice a greater degree of tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures with amalgam fillings.
Either way, amalgam fillings tend to be a good option for molars or in patients (like kids) who need their fillings to last for a long time.
Tooth-Colored Composite Fillings
Patients typically prefer composite fillings because the dentist can closely match the filling material to the color of your teeth. In fact, many patients opt to have their old amalgam fillings removed and replaced with composite fillings. Composite fillings also chemically bond with the existing tooth structure, which gives the affected tooth even more support. It is also a very versatile material and can fix chips in the teeth or modify small gaps.
The disadvantage of composite fillings is that they are not quite as durable as amalgam fillings. They also require more chair time to place, and they can be up to twice as expensive as amalgam fillings. For many patients, however, the benefits of amalgam fillings far outweigh these concerns.
Gold Tooth Fillings
Another material sometimes used in fillings is gold. One of the biggest advantages of gold is its strength and durability. And for some patients, they prefer the look of a gold filling over a silver filling.
The disadvantages of gold is in its extreme cost. It can cost up to ten times the amount of an amalgam filling. Plus, many patients don’t want people to see their fillings, and gold–like amalgam–is visible in the mouth. Finally, receiving a gold filling usually requires up to two visits, which means more time in the dental chair (and potentially more time away from work and other responsibilities).
Ceramics and Glass Ionomer Tooth Fillings
Less common than other tooth fillings are ceramic fillings and glass ionomer fillings. Ceramic tooth fillings are usually made from porcelain, are extremely durable and can last well over 15 years. They are quite expensive though, even more so than gold, so many patients tend to steer away from ceramic tooth fillings.
Glass ionomer fillings are made of acrylic and a type of glass. This type of tooth filling is usually used for fillings below the gumline and release fluoride over time, which helps to strengthen the surrounding tooth structure. However, this material can be quite weak and dentists will typically only use for small fillings near the gumline and away from any chewing surfaces. Pricing is comparable to composite tooth fillings.
What Dental Filling is Best?
The dental filling that is best for you is the one your dentist thinks best suits you, your dental history and what your overall oral health and aesthetic goals are. Make sure you keep up with your twice yearly dental checkups and exams so your dentist can monitor for any signs of decay. If you can catch an area of decay when it’s small, it will be much easier to treat and fill that tooth.
Remember: The above information is to be used as general guidelines and you should not use this information to diagnose yourself. If you are concerned about your teeth, you should contact our Clintonville, Ohio dentists for a thorough dental exam.
Tooth Fillings in Columbus Ohio
We are proud to offer professional dentistry, teeth cleaning exams and tooth fillings to our patients in Central Ohio. Contact us today to learn more!