Almost all of us have at least one filling and the two most common are composite fillings and ceramic fillings.
And while brushing regularly and avoiding sugar is the best prevention of tooth decay, once it sets in, the damage can not be undone.
The best we can do is fill the hole in the tooth and try to improve our dental hygiene.
What are fillings?
During a check-up, your dentist will look for cavities (holes) in your teeth.
These cavities happen when the bacteria eat away at the enamel surrounding your tooth, and if left unchecked, can work their way right into the pulp, causing infection and serious health risks.
Unfortunately, enamel doesn’t grow back, so once a hole is created, then the only thing to do is fill it in. This is where “fillings” get their name from.
There are different types of fillings depending on the material used.
Two of the most common fillings are composite fillings and ceramic fillings, and which one you decide on can depend on where the filling is, who your dentist is, and which type you can afford.
Composite fillings are also known as white, plastic, or tooth-coloured fillings.
They are a mixture of powdered glass and plastic resin and are designed to look as much like the original tooth as possible.
Because they are almost invisible, many people are having their old fillings taken out and replaced with composite ones.
As well as being a filling material for decay, composite fillings can also be used to repair chipped, broken, or worn teeth, as they chemically bond to the tooth’s structure, providing further support.
Ceramic fillings are usually made from porcelain, and less likely to stain over time compared to composite fillings.
Ceramic fillings are tough and tend to last for at least 15 years, so while they cost more, they are a good investment.
Other types of fillings
Composite and ceramic are by no means the only type of fillings available however they are the most common.
Amalgam fillings (silver or metal fillings) have been used for over a century and are less commonly used today. Because they are a silver/metal colour, they don’t fit in with the natural colour of your teeth and are quite noticeable.
We don’t do amalgam fillings as we feel there’s no need for it in this day and age. They not only look bad and being metal, they also expand and contract with hot/cold drinks and food, creating micro-cracks in the tooth, which will eventually cause the tooth to break.
Other types of fillings include gold fillings, which are obviously expensive but tend to be the most durable over the long-term, as well as Glass-Ionomer Cement fillings. This is a tooth-coloured, self-hardening mixture of glass and organic acid that is usually used for small fillings and to fill baby teeth.
What to expect after a filling
After you have a filling, your tooth might be extra sensitive to cold or pressure for a day or two. This is expected, so don’t panic.
Only if the pain continues should you go back to your dentist in case there’s a problem.
Fillings aren’t the answer to tooth decay, they are only a way to help gain control of your oral health.
And no fillings last forever, no matter what material they are made from.
Constant wear and tear can cause fillings to become chipped or cracked, opening a gap between the tooth and the filling, allowing those harmful bacteria inside again.
However, if you’re visiting your dentist for regular check-ups, any problems should be spotted before they become serious.
If you need a filling, talk to the experts
No matter which type of filling you want, or if you haven’t decided and need some advice, we can help.
Composite (plastic) fillings look better than silver ones, however, they’re prone to chipping/staining.
Ceramic fillings are tough and look good, they won’t stain and they last the longest. However, they are the most expensive.
It’s a difficult balancing act and one which we’re happy to help you with.
Contact us today if you have any questions about the different types of fillings and which is best for you.
Our friendly and expert staff will be only too happy to have a chat with you.