A dental filling is a dental restorative material used to restore oral health. Your dentist uses the filling to strengthen teeth or to simply restore general function. Fillings are commonly used to fix cavities and keep your smile healthy.
The two most common types are amalgam and composite fillings. Your dentist can even make your fillings look like your natural teeth. Tooth-colored, composite fillings are very popular, and many patients prefer them simply because they look better. But do you know their main advantages?
If you have old, dark amalgam fillings, there are several reasons you may want to have them replaced with newer, high tech composite resins. White, composite fillings are made of silicon dioxide bound with a high-strength acrylic resin. They bond to the teeth and produce a beautiful restoration.
Here are the other advantages:
Composite bonds to the teeth. Rather than weakening the tooth as traditional amalgam does, it actually strengthens the tooth, so there is less chance of the tooth breaking later on.
Metal is an excellent conductor of heat and cold. Many patients have noticed that increased sensitivity, especially with a brand new amalgam filling. Silicon is an insulator, so the composite resin protects the tooth against heat and cold. This is especially advantageous in restoring very sensitive teeth. With composite fillings, there is little or no post-operative sensitivity, whereas amalgams enhance and prolong sensitivity.
Composite fillings can be made much smaller than amalgams for a new cavity. Amalgams require removing more tooth structure to retain the filling material. This weakens tooth structure. Composite fillings require only that diseased tooth structure be removed, which sometimes keeps the filling a fraction of the size of an amalgam filling. Keeping the filling smaller helps it last longer and also keeps your tooth stronger.
Amalgams are approximately 50 percent mercury. Some people are concerned that this may be a health issue, and that the small amounts of mercury vapor that they release could damage your health. Composites have no mercury in them.
Amalgams require time to harden and can be broken after you leave the dental office if too much pressure is put on them during the first 24 hours after placement. Composites are sturdy right away.
Composites are tooth-colored. We can choose a shade to match your natural teeth. This means that no one except your dentist will be able to tell that you have fillings.