What type of materials are used in a dental filling?
Patients at Valley of the Sun Dentistry can get their teeth filled with cast gold, silver (amalgam), composite resin, ceramic, and glass ionomer. Circumstances such as the location and extent of the decay, cost of the filling material, insurance coverage, and personal preferences may affect which type of filling is best for you.
Every dental filling material has advantages and disadvantages. Dr. Fink will discuss these advantages and disadvantages with you along with your circumstances to help determine which dental filling material would be best for your oral health.
Gold fillings are expensive, typically costing up to 10 times more than silver amalgam fillings. They also require an additionaly office visit to place in your teeth. Additionally, if you have a gold filling placed right next to a silver amalgam filling, it may cause a sharp pain (galvanic shock). This is caused by the interaction between the different metals and saliva, which can rarely generate an electric current. Finally, gold fillings, while may seem appealing to some patients, most patients dislike metal “colored” fillings, and prefer natural colored fillings.
Silver fillings don’t match the natural color of teeth. This is most evindent when you consider that the fillings typically create a grayish hue in the surrounding tooth. In order for silver fillings to be set, a larger, healthy section of the tooth needs to be removed in order to keep the filling in place. Silver fillings are most susceptible to expansion and contraction in the presence of hot and cold liquids. This results in a higher incidence of cracks and fractures in the tooth. Finally, about 1% of people are allergic to mercury, which is a part of the amalgam filling.
One of the biggest flaws of composite fillings is that they tend to wear out sooner than amalgam fillings. Composite resin fillings last for a minimum of 5 years. Additionally, they can wear out sooner since they aren’t as capable of withstanding chewing forces and can chip away, depending on the location, especially if they are used for larger cavities. They also require more time to apply properly to your teeth, taking up to 20 minutes longer than amalgam fillings. Additionally, if composites are being used on inlays or onlays, they may need another office visit to apply. Finally, composite fillings can cost up to 2 times as much as amalgam fillings.
Ceramic fillings are more expensive than other fillings, often costing more than gold fillings. Typically, ceramic fillings require 2 dental visits in order to completely set them. Finally, if you are getting an inlay or an onlay, your tooth will need to be reduced in size in order to make room for and allow the ceramic filling to bond completely to the remaining tooth.
But, one thing that bothers people about their old dental fillings is the color. In the past, most fillings were done in silver. It is still used, but not as much as a few years ago. Silver fillings look like a black spot on the surface of a tooth. And, it usually makes the entire tooth look a little gray because the silver shows through the sides of the translucent enamel. If the black look of a silver amalgam dental filling is bothersome to a patient, it can be replaced with a white restoration and appear more like a natural tooth.The pictures below are samples of what we have done at Valley of the Sun Dentistry