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A Guide to the Various Types of Tooth Fillers

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Tooth fillers play a significant role in the treatment of dental caries. After removing the decayed portion of your tooth, a dentist fills it with dental fillings. Tooth fillings also help repair cracked, chipped, and broken teeth. They prevent further damage that includes tooth loss, pain, and infection. Several types of tooth fillings are available to fill a cavity, gap, or crack. Dentists recommend the type of dental filling by considering a range of factors like the extent of decay, your budget, and case-to-case suitability. The common types of dental fillings are discussed below.

Silver fillings or amalgam
Durable and sturdy, silver fillings are comparatively affordable and can withstand bite forces. However, they have several drawbacks. Silver fillings are conspicuous as they don't match the color of the teeth. They can make the dental site look greyish. Some patients may also experience an allergic reaction because of mercury in these fillings.

Cast gold fillings
Cast gold fillings are long-lasting and resilient against bite forces. They do not corrode and offer better aesthetics. The biggest drawback of cast gold fillings is their cost. They are more expensive than most other types of fillings. In addition, you will need to visit a dentist twice to get these restorations. If you already have a silver amalgam, a gold filling next to it may lead to a galvanic shock (i.e., an electric charge between two fillings in your mouth). The symptoms of oral galvanism include salty or metallic taste, burning sensation in your mouth, tooth sensitivity, rashes, and pain.

Composites are made of resin mixed with quartz or glass, a combination that gives these fillings the color of natural teeth. These are a preferable option if you need filling for visually noticeable teeth. Composites bond to your tooth structure and supports it well. Dentists use these for repairing chipped and broken teeth also. However, they may need replacement every 5-7 years. Besides, applying composites takes 20-30 minutes more, compared to chair time for other types of fillings.

Ceramics are a relatively newer type of fillings. They are made of porcelain and can be as expensive as gold fillings. They offer better resistance to staining and last for approximately 15 years.

Glass ionomers:
These filings are composed of acrylic and specific glass material. They are most suitable for children and fillings below the gum line in the case of adults. Glass ionomers release fluoride that helps prevent the recurrence of tooth decay. However, they are not so strong and are prone to cracks and wear. That is why they need replacement every five years. Glass ionomers cost less than composites.

Are tooth fillings safe?
Yes, tooth fillings are generally very safe. However, there is a possibility of complications and potential risks. Talk to your dentist if you think you have a condition that may worsen because of one or more components in a tooth filling. Silver fillings and composites are the two most popular types of dental fillings. Discuss with your dentist if you need to consider other options for a better outcome.

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