When one or more cavities are discovered during a routine check up, fillings are the prescribed treatment. In the filling process, decayed portions of a tooth are removed and the empty area is filled.
There are several options when it come to the material used in fillings, but which should you choose? The factors to consider include the area being treated, the level of damage, dentist recommendations, cost and insurance coverage.
One of the biggest advantages to getting gold fillings is their durability. They are made of strong material that won’t corrode over time or wear down from the force of chewing. This means they can last for over ten years.
But that level of durability will cost you. Gold fillings are very expensive, costing more than ten times that of silver amalgam fillings. And it will take more time. Two office visits rather than one are required to complete the process of getting gold fillings.
Gold fillings are also a matter of taste. Some find them aesthetically pleasing while others prefer something that blends in better with the rest of the tooth. Its all a matter of personal preference.
It may also be important to note the risk of Galvanic Shock which can occur if a gold filling is placed adjacent to a silver amalgam filling. The combination of both metals and saliva can create an electric current that can cause pain. This is a highly rare occurrence, but something to take into account nonetheless.
Silver fillings have many of the same advantages of gold fillings but come with a much lower price tag. They are also quite strong and can last at least ten years.
But there are some disadvantages to note. In order to provide a big enough space for a silver amalgam filling, extra bits of healthy tooth material may need to be cleared away along with the decay. Silver amalgam may also cause discoloration of the surrounding tooth, turning it a greyish hue. They can also lead to a higher rate of contraction and expansion which can cause cracks and fractures. Lastly, just as with gold fillings, they do not blend in well with the surrounding teeth.
Additionally, about 1% of the population is allergic to the mercury in silver amalgam. If you belong to this 1%, you’ll want to steer clear of silver amalgam.
Tooth Colored Composites
The main advantage with composite fillings is their appearance. They can easily be matched to the color of the surrounding tooth, a particularly strong advantage when used on more visible front teeth.
Composites are, however, not incredibly durable. They cannot withstand chewing pressure as well as gold or silver fillings and can become chipped. All in all, they can only last about five years.
Depending on the type of filling, they can require multiple visits to apply. They also cost up to twice as much as amalgam fillings.
Gold, silver and composite fillings are the three most commonly used filling types but there are a few other less commonly used kinds. Ceramic fillings are made of porcelain and blend well with the tooth. They resist staining better than composite fillings but are more abrasive. They can last up to fifteen years and cost as much as gold fillings.
Glass Ionomer is made of acrylic and glass. It is used in particular cases, usually in fillings below the gum line or for young children. Glass Ionomer has the added bonus of releasing fluoride to help protect against further decay. This type of filling costs about the same as a composite filling but usually doesn’t last quite as long.
Most dental plans cover the cost of a composite filling up to the price of a silver filling, leaving the remaining difference up to you to pay so take that into consideration as you make your decision.
We hope this guide has helped make your decision process a little easier. For more personalized filling advice, be sure to stop by and speak with our dental team.