What Are the Types of Dental Fillings?
Today, there are several filling materials available to you. The most commonly used ones are porcelain, silver amalgam, composite resin, and glass ionomer. The filling you choose will depend on the location and extent of damage, your desired cosmetic outcome, the cost of filling material, your insurance coverage, and our recommendation of the filling that would work best for you.
Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, have been around for a long time. They are made up of a mixture of metals including mercury, tin, copper, silver, or zinc. Silver fillings have been shown to be safe, are the least pricey option, and are strong and durable, withstanding chewing forces, and lasting up to 15 years or more. Their drawback is their silver color, which tends to become darker with time.
Composite resin fillings are made of powdered glass and acrylic resins. They can be shaded to match the color of your existing teeth, giving natural-looking smiles. Composite fillings are relatively durable and are best suited for small to mid-size restorations that experience a moderate amount of chewing pressure. They are usually the choice for filling front teeth and can also be used to restore chipped, broken, or worn teeth.
Porcelain or ceramic fillings look and feel just like your remaining teeth, and deliver a natural appearance. They are more resistant to staining than composite resin fillings. Porcelain fillings are very durable, lasting more than 15 years. Their only drawback is that they are one of the priciest options available.
Glass ionomer fillings are made of acrylic and a glass material usually used to fill primary teeth or for cavities below the gum line. These fillings release fluoride, which can protect a tooth from further decay. Their drawback is that they are not a very durable option being more susceptible to wear than composite resin fillings, and prone to fracture. Glass ionomer fillings may require replacing in five years or less.
Direct vs. Indirect Fillings?
Direct fillings are dental restorations that repair small to averagely sized cavities resulting from dental decay. Also known as chairside fillings, we typically complete these treatments in a single visit to our office.
Indirect fillings are required when the damage from tooth decay is extensive, and there is not enough tooth structure remaining left to hold a filling, but the tooth is not so severely damaged to warrant the use of a dental crown. Indirect fillings are similar to composite fillings except, they are fabricated in a dental laboratory and placed during a follow-up visit.
There are two types of indirect fillings called inlays or onlays. An inlay is cemented inside the tooth within the cusps on the chewing surface of the tooth, while an onlay, also known as a partial crown, involves replacing one or two cusps of teeth as well as the cavity. Indirect fillings are more durable direct fillings and can last up to 30 years.
What Is the Procedure?
For a direct filling, we will use a local anesthetic to numb your teeth, gums and surrounding tissue to avoid discomfort during the procedure. We will drill out the decay and replace it with a filling. After inserting the restoration into the cavity, our dentist will use an instrument to shape it to look natural, matching the shape of neighboring teeth. Depending on the material used, we will sometimes need to harden the filling using a curing light. The last step is trimming off any excess material, then finishing and polishing your final restoration.
The procedure for an indirect filling is similar, with a few additional steps. During your first visit, we will numb the area with a local anesthetic, then remove the tooth decay. We will take an impression of your teeth and send it off to a dental laboratory which will fabricate the indirect filling.
You will need a temporary filling to protect the tooth while your restoration is being prepared. During the second visit, we will check the fit of the indirect filling, and if it fits well, we will permanently cement it into place.
How to Care for Teeth With Dental Fillings
You will need to care for your fillings just as you would for your natural teeth. You need to make sure to follow good oral hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing and using an antibacterial mouthwash daily. It is also essential that you visit us regularly for your routine checkups and cleanings to make sure your fillings are in good shape and to protect your teeth from future tooth decay.
Visit Us Today
Schedule your appointment to check on your oral health and make sure that your teeth are in tip-top shape. Dr. Salvatore Storniolo, DDS will work with you to identify and treat any dental problems you may have. With service and care second to none, you can rest assured that you are in excellent hands. Call us today!