Teeth Fillings – Materials Used for Tooth Restorations
Many types of metals are used in dentistry for the replacement and rehabilitation of oral structures. Most of these metals are considered to be inert when placed in the body while others have been criticised as potential toxins or allergens to some people. Plastic and ceramic teeth fillings are used commonly as tooth restoratives and have not had adverse biologic responses.
Types of Dental Fillings
Average longevity is around 10 years. Tooth-coloured, fluoride containing plastic type filling. Not very strong, so wears down quickly.
Good for fillings in kids teeth, or as a temporary filling, or in a patient with a lot of decay.
Glass ionomer is administered to the caries affected dentin, which minimizes the amount of natural tooth required to restore the tooth when compared to standard composite resin.
Composite Fillings (plastic – acrylic resin)
Composite resin is generally the first line of defense for damaged, fractured teeth. It is also highly utilized to fight against cavities. Composite fillings are a cost effective method to repairing damaged teeth.
The process involves removal of the decayed material from the natural tooth and then restoring the tooth with composite resin.
Average longevity 10-15 years; tooth-coloured; moderate cost; best-used in small-to-medium-size restorations for any teeth; direct one-day placement.
Gold Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are a conservative method of restoration. It is the process whereby the restoration sits on the outer layer of the tooth.
Unlike a standard dental crown, which requires more natural tooth to be removed and sculpted, “inlays and onlay”tend to require minimum amount of the tooth structure to be removed.
Average longevity 20 years to life; gold colour; moderate-to-high initial cost; may be used in any size restoration in any location where metal is not displayed.
Ceramic Indirect (Porcelain inalys/onlays)
Porcelain ceramic inlays and onlays look the most natural in appearance and are highly durable just like the average tooth. Similar to their reference they either sit ‘in’ or ‘on’ a tooth.
Inlays are an alternative option to silver and composite fillings. They are less invasive than dental crowns since less tooth structure is removed for their preparation.
Onlays are used to restore teeth that have had large dental fillings due to decay or damage. In contrast to inlays, onlays will cover a cusp of the tooth.
Average longevity 10-15 years; tooth-coloured; moderate-high initial cost; best in moderate-sized restoration for any teeth; two-appointment placement.
Used less commonly now than in the past, dental amalgam is a mixture of metal and chemical properties. They are often referred to as ‘silver fillings’ due to their noticeable aesthetic appearance. Fillings that used amalgam were commonly used in the past but are now being replaced by more conservative and conventional tooth coloured procedures.
Silver amalgam (an alloy that contains silver, tin, copper, zinc, and about 50% mercury) has been used for approximately 160 years for the restoration of teeth. It has been highly successful but is an unsightly material.
Use of mercury in the body has been criticised since its inception, but amalgam use is still supported strongly by the Australian Dental Association and other groups worldwide.
A small percentage of people in the overall population may be allergic to the elements in silver amalgam. You do have several options, which are defined below.
Crowns or Fixed Prosthesis
Gold alloys have been used for many years for the construction of crowns or fixed bridges. They provide excellent, strong, long-lasting service. Two major types of alloys are now available:
High Noble Metal
Mostly gold, also palladiums, silver; occasionally platinum, zinc, copper.
Mostly nickel also chrome or cobalt and other base metals.
All of the above metals are used either as the sole constituent of a crown, or as a base on which porcelain is fired (baked). Most people have no biologic response to the base metals.
If you have known allergies to metals, please tell us. We usually use high-noble metals. The cost of these is somewhat higher than base metals.
Porcelain Only Crowns
Pure porcelain crowns are now being used more extensively in aesthetic areas.
Which type of tooth restoration is best for you?
Your dentist will give you advice and advantages and disadvantages of each type to allow you to make an informed decision.
The best type for you will depend on how big the restoration is, whether it is in a visible part of the mouth and cost.
A dentists goal is to save the natural tooth. Unfortunately if extensive decay has occurred additional treatments might be recommended. These may include Root Canal Therapy, if decay along with the infection has traveled to the root of your tooth. Therefore affecting the gum. Another method to treat extensive decay or break down of the tooth is to recommend a dental crown.
How long do dental fillings last?
With correct oral hygiene and regular routine dental check-ups, dental fillings can last anywhere between 7-20 years. The reason behind the variance is due to unforeseen lifestyle factors. Additional influences may include:
- Food and drink eating habits
- Dental hygiene (brushing, flossing, use of mouthwash)
- Trauma or high impact to the area
- Decay surrounding the filling
- Grinding of teeth
Do dental fillings need to be replaced?
Only in instances of damage or deterioration should a dental filling be replaced. Unfortunately, not doing so may lead to decay to the natural treated tooth area.
Fillings tend to cover the exposed tooth enamel that has been damaged. Therefore neglecting treatment could expose further damage throughout the tooth and eventually the root, which may require root canal therapy. In most severe cases, if decay or infection has effected most of the tooth, an extraction might be recommended.
Book an Dentist Appointment for Teeth Fillings
For more information about teeth fillings, feel free to contact us at any one of our Amazing Smiles Clinics located at Nerang – Gold Coast, Logan, Luxton Dental (Logan Central), Jimboomba, Strathpine and Wynnum to book a consultation with our dental professionals.