When you visit your dentist for a routine exam and the dentist discovers cavities in your mouth the decayed portion of the tooth will first be removed before it is filled to cover the area occupied by the decayed material. Dental fillings can also be used to repair cracked and broken teeth besides teeth that have worn down because of misuse like nailbiting.
The dentist will initially numb the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic after which instruments will be used to remove the decay. The location and the extent of the decay will determine the kind of instrument the dentist decides to use for removing the decay. After the decay has been removed the dentist prepares the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity to remove any bacteria or debris.
Many types of dental filling materials are presently available. You can choose from gold, porcelain, silver amalgam, tooth-colored, and composite resin materials. The extent and location of the decay, the cost of the filling materials, your insurance coverage, and the dentist’s recommendation will assist you to determine which type of filling material will best address your needs. Let us look at some of the options you can choose from:
Cast gold fillings are durable and can last for 15 years or more without corroding. They can withstand the strength of chewing forces and some patients believe these fillings are better pleasing to the eye than silver amalgam fillings.
Cast gold fillings are expensive by more than 10 times the cost of silver amalgam and will require at least two visits to the dentist’s office for the placement. When these fillings are placed next to silver amalgam they can cause a galvanic shock to occur. Many patients do not find colored fillings as aesthetically pleasing.
Silver amalgam fillings are also durable and generally outlast composite resin fillings and have the same strength as cast gold fillings. They are more affordable than composite fillings.
Silver amalgam fillings do not match the color of your natural teeth and healthy enamel of the tooth must often be removed to make space for the filling. They can create a greyish hue to the structure of the surrounding tooth. Perhaps the biggest problem with these fillings is the expansion and contraction to the presence of hot and cold temperatures that can cause the tooth to crack or fracture. They can also cause allergic reactions from the mercury present in amalgam fillings.
These fillings are aesthetically pleasing and the shade and color of the composites can be matched to the color of the existing teeth. They are suitable for use in visible front teeth. Composite filling cement to the structure of the tooth to provide additional support that may be required. Besides using them for filling cavities they can also be used to repair broken, chipped or worn teeth. The preparation work for the filling is less involved as much of the tooth enamel need not be removed.
Tooth-colored composite fillings are not as durable as the other varieties spoken about in this discussion. They only last for about five years and cannot withstand the pressure of chewing as silver amalgam or cast gold if it is used to fill large cavities. They are prone to chipping depending on the location of the filling and are expensive when compared to the cost of amalgams.
You also have the option of choosing from ceramic or glass ionomer there are also tooth-colored. Ceramic fillings are resistant and durable but can often cost as high as gold fillings. Glass ionomer is developed from acrylic and glass material of a specific type. This dental fillings material is commonly used in fillings below the gum line in young children. Glass releases fluoride which is helpful to protect the tooth from decay. However, the material is not durable and will only last for five years or less but will cost just as high as composite resin fillings.
When recommended dental fillings for cavities or any other problem it is suggested that you discuss with the dentist to understand dental fillings cost and the material that will be used for the filling. Discussing with your insurers will also allow you to understand the kind of reimbursement you can expect from the dental insurance company. However, you can confidently approach your dentist for the fillings you need and choose from a variety of dental fillings material that will be offered to you.