Cavities are unfortunate, but they’re also a common dental issue. Most of us will have at least one filling in our lifetimes. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 90% of adults aged 20–64 have had at least one cavity. When it comes time to take care of that cavity, there are several types of dental fillings to consider. The materials range from traditional amalgam to tooth-colored composites, and each comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks.
To help you make an informed decision with your dentist, here’s a rundown of the different types of dental fillings.
According to a Montclair dentist, Amalgam fillings have been around for over a century and are one of the most researched materials used for filling cavities. These fillings are made from a mixture of metals that typically include silver, tin, and copper, combined with elemental mercury. They’re known for their durability and cost-effectiveness.
In fact, they can last for 10 to 15 years if well taken care of. However, their silver color can be a drawback for people looking for a more natural appearance. Also, they can cause some teeth discoloration over time.
Composite fillings are made from a blend of plastic and glass, providing a tooth-colored appearance that blends seamlessly with the surrounding tooth. They are great for small to medium-sized cavities and offer good durability. The main advantage of composite fillings is their aesthetic appeal.
However, they may not last as long as amalgam fillings, requiring replacement or repair within about five to seven years. They also tend to be more expensive than amalgam fillings.
Glass Ionomer Fillings
Glass ionomer fillings are less commonly used but are ideal for specific situations. They’re often used for filling cavities near the gum line or for small children who may have difficulty keeping still during a dental procedure.
These fillings are made from a blend of glass and organic acid and are tooth-colored. They release fluoride over time, which helps to prevent further decay, but they are less durable than other options and may need to be replaced within five years.
Ceramic fillings, usually made of porcelain, offer excellent durability and resist staining better than composite fillings.
However, they are usually more costly than other types. They are a good choice for larger cavities where aesthetics and durability are both concerns. A single ceramic filling can last more than 15 years if properly cared for.
Gold fillings are the most expensive option and are considered by many to be the gold standard—no pun intended—due to their durability.
These fillings are made from an alloy of gold with other metals and can last upwards of 20 years. However, the glaring golden color could be a drawback for those concerned with a natural appearance.
Choosing the right type of dental filling is crucial for both your oral health and peace of mind. Durability, aesthetics, and cost are important factors to consider. Remember, you’re not making this decision alone. Your dentist will provide recommendations based on the size and location of your cavity, your medical history, and any aesthetic concerns you may have.
Armed with this information, you can better discuss your options and come to a mutually agreeable decision. The more you know, the easier it will be to keep that smile bright and healthy for years to come.