Types of dental fillings
There are several different types of dental fillings and we can discuss which is best for you depending on the location of the restoration in your mouth, the extent of the repair, whether you have any allergies, and your budget.
Amalgam (or silver) fillings combine silver, copper, tin and mercury to create a strong and stable filling material. It is durable, easy to use, highly resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive compared with other materials. Amalgam fillings are recommended for restoring teeth further back in the mouth and out of sight due to their dark colour.
Composite fillings are made up of acrylic resin and finely ground, glasslike particles. These coloured fillings produce the most natural appearance for your restoration. Composite fillings provide durability and resistance to fracture in small to mid-sized restorations that withstand moderate chewing pressure.
Long-lasting and durable alternative but are rarely used these days. The cost of a gold filling is generally higher than a silver amalgam and the colour doesn’t match natural teeth.
Porcelain is used to make onlays and inlays – restorations that are used when a large amount of tooth structure has been removed. Onlays and inlays retain more natural tooth structure than a crown and will strengthen a weakened tooth.
How long do fillings last?
The position, shape, material, and functioning pressure, all influence how long dental fillings will last. Larger fillings that bear a heavy functional load tend to break down more quickly than smaller fillings that bear little force. This is why it is impossible and meaningless to try to state categorically how long fillings should last.
However, when placing a filling, your dentist may have an idea of the expectation of the life of the filling. For example, a very small filling in the groove of a tooth away from biting pressure could be there for decades whereas a very large one in the mouth of a person who grinds their teeth may be lucky to last a few years and really should have a crown.
During a checkup, we are constantly monitoring the state of your fillings, looking for signs of weakness, cracking, decay or discolouration.
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