When you require a filling for a tooth that has decayed, your dentist will start by removing any material that is decaying, then thoroughly clean the area affected and finally then fill the cavity with a filling compound. The filling will stop more decay from occurring by blocking of any spaces where bacteria could get lodged.
Composite dental fillings
Fillings and resins which mimic the natural color of your teeth provide great durability and also are very resistant to fractures. As they have a more natural color, they are ideal for patients who want to maintain a natural look and can be used on both front and back teeth. Unlike metal fillings, these fillings bond with the remaining tooth structure which offers better reinforcement to the tooth. We only utilise tooth colored filling compounds when repairing damaged teeth for these reasons.
Types of fillings
Gold fillings are made in a lab and are unique to each patient, they are held in place using a dental cement. They are usually the most costly option. Gold is well tolerated by gum tissues and can be expected to last for over 20 years.
Amalgam (silver) fillings are a cheaper option and, as with gold, the gum tissues tolerate them well. They are more noticeable than composite and porcelain options because of their dark color. For this reason they are usually not advised for visible areas of the mouth.
Composite (plastic) fillings are manufactured to match the natural teeth of a patient which results in them being barely noticeable, if at all. Unfortunately, they are not as hard wearing and often are only expected to last from 3 to 10 years. Composite fillings can wear or sometimes even chip over time and for this reason they may not be suitable for bigger fillings. Tobacco, tea and coffee can also stain them.
Porcelain fillings, also know as onlays or inlays, are made in a laboratory and then bonded with the tooth. They cost roughly the same as gold fillings but can be matched to the natural tooth color. They are popular as they resist staining. Usually a porcelain filling will cover almost the entire tooth which makes them virtually impossible to detect.