What is the best type of dental filling?
As with many things in dentistry and in life the real answer to this question is, it depends. The best type of dental filling depends upon:
- The clinical situation.
- Your views about the different materials.
- Your budget.
In some instances your dentist will prefer to design a dental filling to protect any remaining tooth structure. If this is the case they may turn of filling into what is known as an overlay. An overlay covers any remaining tooth cusps and can protect them from the bite.
Very often this type of dental filling/overlay is made out of porcelain.
Because porcelain is made by a dental technician they can be more expensive than other types of dental filling.
Gold fillings can also be made, once again these are made by a dental technician so have increased cost which added to the cost of the gold can make them quite an expensive alternative.
Composite resin can also be used. These type of composite fillings Are what are known as white fillings. Tooth colored composite fillings are also often used if you want old amalgam fillings replaced.
Amalgam fillings are not used as much as they used to be. This type of filling material is often associated with mercury poisoning and general health problems. For this reason amalgam fillings are often replaced. There is much written about the science behind amalgam filling replacement, However even the American Dental Association still recommend the use of amalgam.
Glass ionomer can also be used as a white filling, this type of filling material will release fluoride slowly.
Common questions asked about dental fillings.
What is the difference between root canal and teeth filling?
Very simply a dental filling is only in the enamel and dentine of your tooth. The dentist will remove any decayed area and replace it with the dental filling. Root canal is when the nerve of the tooth is removed, this is a much more involved procedure and is often done by a specialist known as and endodontic.
Is it possible to develop a cavity under a filling?
Yes. Good oral health is key to preventing this although fillings, inlays or onlays can leak over the years allowing bacteria and therefore decay to take hold. Unfortunately there is often nothing that can be done about this and the filling simply needs to be replaced. You may find you have the early warning signs of this if you have sudden onset of tooth sensitivity in an area where you have a dental filling.
Can you eat with a temporary filling?
Yes. We do however recommend sticking to food which is not too sticky or chewy. If the temporary filling is towards the front of your mouth then you may also want to avoid food which can sustain for example curry, red wine or lots of tea. The composite material does have a tendency to stain.
How long does it take a dental filling to harden?
Most tooth colored fillings are cured using a high-intensity light in the dental practice, this ensures they have a primary hardening immediately. They do however continue to harden for a little while after although the bulk of this is done within 10 min.
What do fillings on front teeth look like?
A good filling on a front teeth will not look like a filling at all! A good dental filling will blend in so that you don’t even know it exists. This of course will only happen with a tooth coloured filling.
Is a dental filling a very painful process?
No. You will always have a local anaesthetic to numb the area. Also it is recommended that you ask your dentist for a topical anaesthetic first. A topical anaesthetic gel, applied on the end of a little cotton will bud will numb your gum, will numb the area prior to having a dental injection. This means that you can have the injection with no sensation or feeling at all. This should ensure that the whole dental filling procedure is relatively pain-free.
You may experience some mild discomfort as the truth numbness wears off, particularly around where the dental injection was given. This however should be mild discomfort at worst and will clear up after a couple of days
Can a permanent tooth filling stay for a lifetime?
Yes it is possible for tooth filling to last a lifetime however it is not usual. composite fillings tend to last 7 to 10 years whilst metal fillings tend to last 8 to 10 years although they can last up to 20 years. The most common reason that are filling needs to be replaced is due to decay which has managed to creep in around the edge of the filling where it meets the tooth. This can happen with any type of filling regardless of the material.
Are Composite Resin fillings better than Amalgam fillings?
Composite fillings don’t last quite as long as amalgam fillings generally however they are more aesthetic, more biocompatible and for this reason generally more accepted by patients.
Do amalgam fillings leak mercury
Amalgam fillings do not generally leak mercury once they are fitted. The critical times for mercury to escape from a filling is whilst the filling is being placed or especially during removal. This is why dental practice which specialises in amalgam filling removal will always use specialist equipment to ensure that any free mercury vapour is extracted away with a dedicated protocol for Mercury replacement.