A dental filling or restoration is a restorative material that’s used artificially to restore the morphology, integrity, and function of missing tooth structures.
The structural loss of a tooth usually is as a result of external trauma or cavities. Dental fillings can be made using a variety of materials. They include:
Amalgam is one of the most commonly used tooth filling materials and has been in use for more than 150 years. Amalgam is made by mixing mercury with at least one other type of metal. Compared to other restorative materials, amalgam offers more benefits considering that it is strong, durable, affordable, and has bacteriostatic effects.
This material is used in dentistry for a couple of reasons. Not only is it relatively easy to use and work with, but it also remains porous for a very short period of time; making it a great option to pack and fill any irregular volumes before hardening to form a hard compound. At the same time, the material has greater longevity than most direct restorative materials like composite. On average, amalgam restorations can serve the patient for 10-12 years, whereas other options like resin-based composites serve for lesser periods of time, usually half the time.
However, as composite material science has continued to improve and a better understanding of the sensitivity of placement techniques, it is important to note that the difference between the two is diminishing.
There are times when a composite or white filling will serve better than amalgam. When a more conservative option would be beneficial, or when amalgam isn’t indicated, then a composite is the best option to go for. Situations where a composite would work well include minor occlusal restorations where amalgam would require the extraction of a tooth whose structure is sound, as well as in cases where the patient’s enamel site is beyond the height of the contour.
Composites, also known as white fillings, are another option that is quite common when it comes to tooth filling. Interestingly, dental inlays and crowns can also be made in a laboratory using dental composites. Composites are quite similar to those materials used in direct filling and are generally tooth coloured. However, the durability and strength of a composite isn’t as high as that of metal or porcelain restorations and wears and discolours much faster than most options available.
Most people still have mercury or silver fillings they had put on years ago. The fact is that most of these fillings aren’t that pleasing to look at, and we understand that by their unavoidable design, mercury/fillings weaken the tooth structure. On-lays (tooth-coloured restorations) and porcelain inlays create fillings that are not only unnoticeable or beautiful but also strengthen weakened teeth. These restorations aren’t only aesthetically pleasing, but are also stronger, and it’s all thanks to new and innovative bonding technologies.
Cons of Silver Fillings
Silver fillings tend to present many drawbacks. It is a well-known fact that the edges of a silver filling can start wearing down, becoming weak or even breaking. When this happens, it results in the tooth or teeth not getting the protection they need, creating an environment where cavities can thrive again. Over time, the silver filling metal expands and contracts, and this could lead to it splitting.
These fillings contain 50% mercury and can corrode, leading to a leak which can cause your teeth and gums to stain.
The good thing, however, is the silver fillings can be replaced using other restorative options like tooth-coloured on-lays.
Pros of Tooth-Coloured Restoration
Tooth-coloured restorations offer plenty of benefits to people in need of tooth filling. Resin on-lays is bonded to the patient’s tooth, creating a tight, far more superior fit to his or her tooth. This restoration option can be used in cases where most of the tooth’s structure is damaged or has been lost. With an on-lay, the tooth remains stronger and stays intact.
Since the resin used under this option contains fluoride, it can help prevent decay. The interesting thing is that resin wears off like natural teeth and doesn’t require gum line placement, which is far healthier for the gums!
The result? A beautiful smile!
At Wiggly Teeth, we opt for only composite fillings as baby teeth are smaller and putting amalgams on them would further compromise the strength of the tooth.
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