Materials Used in Fillings: A Rundown
Choice is good, right? Yes, you get to have the power to make the decision. But you also have to do some research and actually decide. Nowadays, when it comes to dental restorations, there are many different materials used in fillings. Here is a basic rundown of the materials that are most commonly used.
Amalgam (Silver (Fillings)
What is It?
Amalgam is a liquid mercury and metal alloy mixture. It’s a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. It has been used in dental restorations since the 1800’s because of its low cost, ease of application and durability. Amalgam fillings typically last 10-15 years.
- Strong – It holds up to the force of chewing without breaking.
- Inexpensive – It’s the most inexpensive option for tooth restoration materials.
- Placed in one visit – The placement of amalgam is quick, so you spend less time in the chair.
- Aesthetics – Since it’s not the color of your teeth,
- It expands – Over time, amalgam will expand in the tooth causing the remaining tooth to crack.
- Mercury – If digested, mercury is toxic. There has been a lot of talk about if amalgam fillings are harmful, although it hasn’t been definitively proven. Some people would just rather err of the side of caution.
What is It?
It’s a mixture of tooth-colored plastic and glass. During the middle of the 20th century, dentists started using composite resin for dental restorations, mainly on the front teeth. Over the years, composite resin has begun to be more widely used on all teeth, front and back. Typically they last up to 15 years.
- Natural looking – It matches the color of your teeth so it looks natural
- Strengthens the tooth – Composite resin bonds to the tooth making it stronger.
- Takes a bit longer – The application is a longer process. Although it’s still one visit there is more chair time.
- A bit more expensive – Composite resin is more expensive than amalgam.
What is It?
Cast gold is made with either 14k or 18k gold, as well as 24k gold foil that is polished layer by layer.
- Lasts 30+ years – It’s not uncommon to hear about a gold filling that lasts well over 30 years.
- Aesthetics – Some people like the look of a gold filling.
- Strength – It can withstand chewing without wear or damage.
- Expensive – It’s gold, so it’s one of the more expensive options.
- Two office visits – A gold filling can require 2 or more visits to place.
- Aesthetics – If you’re not one of those people that like the look of gold on your teeth, then this becomes a con.
What is it?
A ceramic filling is most commonly made with porcelain. They last more than seven years.
- Invisible – They match the color of your teeth so there is no evidence of dental work.
- Resistant to staining – They are more resistant to staining and abrasion than composite resin is.
- Expensive – The cost for a ceramic restoration can be as much as or more than gold.
- More brittle – It’s more brittle than composite resin and can break easier.
Your dentist can make recommendations, but ultimately the material you use will be up to you. It’s a good idea to find out what your dental insurance will cover so you have an idea of the cost for each material.