If part of a tooth has been lost through decay or damaged due to an accident, a filling may be required. Fillings seal the cavity, restore the shape of the tooth and protect the sensitive tissue beneath. A filling can be made out of a variety of materials. The most common of these are amalgam (silver) or composite (white).
Silver fillings are made of a material called amalgam, which is a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, copper, and other metals. Amalgam fillings have a good long-term history, are relatively simple to place and are very hardwearing, which is why they are often put into the back chewing teeth.
Some people opt for composite or ‘cosmetic’ fillings which match the colour of the natural tooth much better. These fillings are becoming more popular but are more technique sensitive (fiddly) to place and not suitable for every cavity.
Over the years new materials and techniques have allowed us to be much less destructive of tooth tissue when filling teeth, strengthen the seal between tooth and filling by “bonding” and provide more aesthetic fillings, but we would still much rather that you did not need them in the first place! Most Dentists spend their time replacing old fillings so prevention makes health and economic sense.
- Look more natural than silver fillings
- “Bond” to the tooth and can strengthen weaker teeth
- Can improve the shape, colour and size of teeth
- Sets hard immediately
- More expensive than silver fillings
- More technique sensitive ( fiddly! ) than silver fillings
- Not suitable for all cavities
- Don’t change colour with tooth whiteners
- Strong and can withstand heavy biting pressures
- Least expensive
- Tried and tested
- Do not harden immediately
- Can be unsightly
- Contains metal alloys and mercury
- Doesn’t “bond” to the tooth