Lets say you’re getting your routine dental cleanings and you get the news you don’t want to hear: despite having impeccable dental health hygiene, your otherwise healthy smile is going to need a filling or two. Sometimes, even with good dental care, cavities develop. Sometimes cavities are a result of not brushing and flossing as you should, but sometimes even with excellent oral health practices, other health conditions, genetics, or medication that you take lend themselves to dental decay.
When this happens, you have options for the type of fillings you get. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with types of fillings before you get to the appointment, so you’re ready to make the right choice:
Types of Dental Fillings
- Fillings That Resemble Natural Tooth Enamel
If your cavity is fairly small or is located in an area that you use a lot for chewing, your dentist might fill your tooth with a composite material made of quartz or glass resin. These are call composite fillings, and are a good choice if the idea of getting a filling gives you the heeby jeebies. Composite fillings are a little less traumatic than other types of fillings, as you’re dentist will not have to drill knee-deep into your tooth to get a good bond with the tooth.
Why People Choose Them: Composite fillings can be matched to your natural tooth color, and keep your smile beautiful.
What You Need to Know: After years of chewing food and working as hard as your natural tooth, you’ll find the composite filling will discolor. However, that’s not necessarily bad, since your teeth are discoloring as well.
- Fluoride-releasing Fillings
Fluoride-releasing fillings are a somewhat new concept in the world of dental health. They are made of glass ionomers and gradually release small amounts of fluoride over time, to prevent to tooth root from decaying.
Why People Choose Them: Like composite fillings, glass ionomer fillings can be made to match your natural tooth, so you don’t have a mouth full of obvious fillings. Also, the inside of the tooth can’t be cleaned once the filling is covering it, so using a filling that releases fluoride is good for preventing further dental damage.
What You Need to Know: This type of filling is somewhat brittle, so you won’t want to use it on an are that does a lot of chewing. This type of filling is best for areas near the gum line that take less of a beating, or in between teeth.
- Durable and Affordable Fillings
Amalgam fillings are very common and a dental practice that has been established for over a century. Amalgam fillings use a mixture of silver, copper, tin, and mercury to fill your cavity.
Why People Choose Them: Amalgam fillings are durable and a very cost effective option. If you need a cavity but don’t want to go broke getting it repaired, this might be you best choice.
What You Need to Know: This type of filling is silver-colored, so it stands out against your teeth. Also, metal transfer temperature, so it could make the tooth it is attached to more sensitive to hot or cold food.
- Silver Fillings
Although they’re called “silver” fillings, they aren’t actually made of silver, this type of filling is made a combination of metals, like amalgam. Unlike amalgam, silver fillings do not include mercury. Despite being listed as safe by the American Dental Association, many people have concerns with their teeth being filled with mercury.
Why People Choose Them: This is a very strong material to fill your teeth with. It is not going to wear down, like composite fillings. It also costs only a fraction of the previously mentioned fillings.
What You Need to Know: Like amalgam fillings, this type of filling will make your teeth sensitive to temperature, and doesn’t match the color of your teeth.
Like death and taxes, getting a filling isn’t usually a thing people look forward to, but it is a natural part of life. You should never opt to forgo a filling because you feel uncomfortable with it. If you let a cavity go unchecked, the result could be losing teeth or a negative impact on your overall health. Instead, look for a type of filling that meets your needs and eases your fears.