Fillings are an easy way to describe what dentists do when when teeth have been chipped, broken or have decay. By restoring a tooth with a filling, the dentist is helping to avoid tooth sensitivity, protect the nerve in the middle of the tooth and to ensure you can eat on it again.
There are a number of different types including:
- amalgam (silver coloured)
- composite fillings (tooth coloured)
- glass ionomer (tooth coloured)
What are amalgam fillings?
Amalgam is long lasting, hard wearing and has been used for at least 150 years. It is economical to use and an amalgam filling may last 15 to 20 years. Amalgam fillings are silver coloured. Research into the safety of dental amalgam has been carried out for over 100 years. There is no connection between amalgam fillings and any medical problem.
What are composite fillings?
Composite fillings are strong, but not as hard wearing as amalgam so are used in small-to-moderate sized cavities. They are ideal for small to medium cavities due to its strength. Composite fillings are tooth coloured and are made from powdered glass quartz, silica or other ceramic particles added to a resin base. After the tooth is prepared, the material is bonded onto the area and a light shone onto it to set it. The dentist will choose a shade to match your existing teeth, although over time staining can happen.
What are glass ionomer fillings?
Glass ionomer fillings form a chemical link with the tooth. They are tooth coloured and slowly release fluoride, which helps to prevent further tooth decay. This type of filling is fairly weak and, because of this, is usually limited to use on baby teeth and non-biting surfaces such as around the necks of the teeth. Little preparation is needed as the material bonds directly to the tooth.