A filling is a way to restore a decayed tooth back to its normal shape and function. If you have a tooth that requires a filling, the dentist will first remove the decayed tooth material, then clean the affected area and fill the cleaned-out cavity with a filling material. This filling will help prevent further decay by closing off any cracks or spaces where bacteria might enter.
There are a variety of filling materials available including silver, plastic and porcelain. We will work with you to determine which material is best for you, depending on the extent of repair, the location of the filling and the cost. Each of the filling materials is briefly explained below:
Amalgam (silver) fillings
Amalgam (silver) fillings are the most inexpensive choice. However, most of our patients do not want them either due to their dark color or due to concerns about their mercury content. For this reason we do not place amalgam fillings in our practice. Amalgam fillings that are already in your mouth are not harmful and we do not recommend replacing them unless they fail or the patient wants them replaced for esthetic reasons.
Composite (plastic) fillings
Composite (plastic) resin fillings are color selected to achieve the best match to the patient’s teeth, creating a more natural appearance. While these white fillings may be less noticeable than other materials, they usually only last between 3 and 10 years. They may not be ideal for larger fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco.
Porcelain fillings, called inlays or onlays, are created in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the color of the tooth, they resist staining, and they cost about the same as gold fillings. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth, making the filling nearly undetectable.