Common Dental Fillings Options for Treating Cavities

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Dental fillings are used to treat cavities. A cavity is a hole left in the teeth because of bacterial action. Even after the cavity is formed in the teeth, the bacteria do not go away. They are still present in the cavities and continue to cause damage to the what is remaining of the teeth.

Common Dental Fillings Options for Treating Cavities

Dental fillings will stop the damage and make that sure oral health is not compromised. Dentists will examine the teeth that are affected, and may order X-rays if required. The cavity is cleaned to remove bacteria and decayed matter. Then it is filled with an inert material and sealed. Fillings replace the part of the teeth that are damaged. Dental restoration is possible with the help of fillings. The functionality and structure of the teeth are preserved with fillings.

Types of dental fillings

There are a variety of dental fillings to choose from.

Amalgam fillings
This is the traditional or the classic fillings that most people choose. They are usually called silver fillings but actually it is a combination of different materials like tin, mercury, copper and silver. Mercury is the main element and forms almost half of this mixture. These fillings are used because of their durability and strength. Cost-wise also they are cheaper than the other fillings.

After drilling the tooth, the dentist cleans the cavity. They will then mix the mixture of alloy with liquid mercury. This forms a soft putty like material which will harden into a solid filling and works as a filler for the damaged teeth. Many have concerns because of mercury being used in dental fillings, but research shows that amalgams have not posed much of a health risk apart from some allergic reactions. If your old filling is still strong, there is typically no need to remove it. However, do inform your dentist if you feel you are sensitive to mercury or any of the other materials used in the filling mixture.

Composite fillings
A mixture of powdered glass and resin is used in composite fillings. They are favoured over the other types of fillings as they match the colour of the teeth. They blend well with the natural teeth and are hard to detect. They are also used for other cosmetic procedures like changing the colour of the teeth or even reshaping the disfigured teeth.

When compared with the traditional ‘silver’ fillings they cost a bit more, but can’t beat the camouflage effect they provide. Besides this, composite fillings bond well with the teeth, they stick to the sides of the teeth and provide support. They also provide strength to the teeth, act against any breakage or extreme temperatures. After placing the filling, some may notice increased teeth sensitivity. Inform the dentist about this and they will take appropriate measures. Composite fillings are also known to absorb the stains of food that is consumed, this can be prevented by applying a plastic coating over the teeth. Though they are sturdy, composite fillings do not last as long as the amalgam fillings.

Gold fillings
Gold fillings provide good strength and are durable. They do not chip or break away and are usually preferred to be placed in the rear teeth so they are not visible. Teeth get affected according to the food consumed. But gold fillings do not absorb stains from the food. Gold also expands and shrinks along with the teeth and this quality goes a long way when used as a filling.

Some of the other features of gold fillings are that they do not change colour after being used for many years. They do not change shape and also help in the chewing mechanism. Plaque formation is also reduced because of the polished surface of the filling. It does not allow food particles to stick and helps improve oral health.

Ceramic fillings
When the thought is on aesthetics along with providing restoration care for cavities, ceramic fillings score better. They are tooth coloured fillings and blend in well with the natural teeth. They are mostly made up of porcelain and do not take up stains like other fillings. It lasts for 10-15 years and is expensive as well. Earlier it took longer to make ceramic fillings but now due to advancement in technology the waiting period for the fillings is reduced.

There are concerns over ceramic fillings being brittle and breaking often. For this reason, ceramic fillings are filled in a larger space in the tooth. This offers extra support and they do not break off easily. Unlike the other fillings, there is no issue of allergy as metals are not used. Ceramic fillings are generally used as inlays and onlays.

Glass ionomer fillings
These fillings are made of acrylic and glass. Fillings of this variety are used when they are to be placed above the gum lining. They are especially recommended for use for children. Since fluoride is present in this mixture, it helps boost oral health by slowly releasing fluoride into the teeth. They also blend well with the natural teeth and have a good bonding with the dental enamel. Extra strength is given to the teeth due to this and there is no need for any bonding agent as it provides good attachment to the teeth. Glass ionomer fillings increase their support over the years, they absorb water and become stronger and are less susceptible to wear and tear.

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