Our Treatments & Services
Filling of Cavities
When your dentist finds a tooth that has been decayed, your dentist will brief you on the type of fillings available and provide you the choice between an amalgam and a composite filling. With your permission to proceed, your dentist will first remove the decayed area, ensuring that all the decay has been removed by probing and testing the area. Next comes the filling where your dentist will apply the prepared filling material into the cavity which is then cured to harden the material. Your dentist may finish off by trimming and polishing the filling to ensure that you have a comfortable and effective bite.
The types of filling available are:
1. Amalgam Fillings
Amalgam fillings have been in use for over 180 years in the field of dentistry. When the metals in amalgam come together, they form a soft material that can be used to build your tooth back to its original form. After a few minutes, the amalgam begins to harden as the metals integrate together. Although pure mercury is toxic, the mercury found in amalgam fillings is locked inside when the filling hardens and is therefore not harmful. Many studies have shown that dental amalgam is a safe, time-tested filling material.
2. Composite Fillings
Composite fillings are newer than amalgam fillings and are constantly improving. The composite resin is about the consistency of modeling clay. In order for the composite to harden, the dentist shines a bright blue light on it. Through a series of chemical reactions, the composite resin hardens into a very strong material that looks very much like a natural tooth.
Many people prefer to have white fillings because they are less noticeable. We usually recommend amalgam fillings for the back teeth and composite resin fillings for the front teeth. In order to assist you in making an informed decision, here is a short list of seven factors to consider:
1 – Amalgam fillings are stronger than composite fillings
We recommend amalgam fillings on the back teeth because that is where the majority of the forces are when you bite down. Since amalgam is made of various metals, it is a very strong material. Composite resin fillings wear down faster than amalgam fillings and need to be replaced more often.
2 – Composite fillings are more expensive than amalgam fillings
If you’re on a tight budget, amalgam may be your best choice.
3 – Amalgam fillings last longer than composite fillings
I’m sure that with future technological advancements, composite fillings will probably last as long as amalgam fillings someday. But for right now, if you want your filling to last a long time, you should choose amalgam.
4 – Composite fillings are less noticeable than silver amalgam fillings
If you get an amalgam filling on a back tooth, most likely only you and your dentist will notice it. But if you don’t like seeing silver in your mouth at all, then a composite filling is probably the way to go.
5 – Amalgam fillings contain mercury
As I mentioned above, the mercury in the amalgam fillings gets incorporated into the filling. However, amalgam fillings do release extremely small amounts of mercury. The amount of mercury released is less than the amount of mercury you’d get from eating fish, but this does pose a problem for people with a mercury allergy.
6 – Amalgam fillings require the dentist to remove healthy tooth structure
Since amalgam fillings don’t bond to the tooth like composite fillings, the dentist has to make the filling wider at the bottom than it is at the top so that the tooth will hold the filling in place. In order to do this, the dentist usually has to cut away healthy tooth structure. With composite fillings, the dentist can simply remove the decay and then place the filling without cutting away healthy tooth structure to retain the filling.
7 – Composite fillings shrink when they harden
Most composite fillings get somewhere between 2-5% smaller when they harden. Sometimes this can lead to gaps between the filling and the tooth which allow bacteria to enter and start a new cavity. Other times, when a large composite filling shrinks as it hardens, it can put stress on the tooth which results in increased sensitivity of the affected tooth. The effect of the shrinkage can be minimized if the dentist adds the composite in small, incremental layers.