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5 Common Types of Cavity Fillings

Cavity treatment is common in dental care. The first step is cleaning the affected part of the tooth, leaving an empty space. Then the dentist evens out the tooth’s surface with filling to prevent further decay.

Dentists use five types of material to fill the spaces left behind after cavity removal. It’s important to be familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of each type of material even if it’s the dentist who decides which one to use.

To learn more about cavity fillings, visit PSL Smiles website. Here are five popular materials used for fillings.

Silver amalgam fillings

This material is the most common. It contains 50% silver, copper, zinc, and tin, and 50% mercury. Its affordability, durability and strength are what makes it popular. Lasting up to 15 years, silver amalgam is easy to fit into cavity spaces, and there’s no risk of contaminating saliva or blood.

On the downside, silver is highly visible, so the filling is conspicuous. It can also cause the tooth to crack as it expands and contracts with time. As a result, it may eventually lead to new cavities because it creates spaces between the tooth and the filling where food and bacteria can accumulate.

Controversial as the mercury in silver amalgam is, the US Food and Drug Administration and the American Dental Academy have declared this filling safe.

Composite fillings

Made from plastic and resin, composite fillings are soft when inserted into the cavity. They become hard under a bright blue light used for curing. It’s preferable as it matches the tooth’s color. It’s not as noticeable as silver amalgam, but it’s also not as long-lasting; it’s typically replaced every five years, which is an added cost.

Ceramic fillings

Referred to as onlays or inlays, these aesthetically attractive fillings are made from porcelain. Even though ceramic fillings cost more than the other materials, their color matches that of the tooth closely and they’re more resistant to abrasion and straining than composite resin.

The disadvantage of this material is that it’s more brittle so to prevent it from breaking, dentists use a relatively large amount. For this reason, a larger area of the tooth is required to accommodate the filling.

Glass ionomer fillings

These fillings are made from glass and acrylic and are suitable for kids with fast developing teeth. Even though they last no more than five years, they release fluoride, which helps prevent further tooth decay. They’re more prone to cracking though, as they are more delicate than composite resin. Classic glass ionomer fillings don’t match the color of the tooth as well as composite resin.

Gold fillings

It may not come to you as a surprise that gold fillings are pricey and not as common as the other materials mentioned here. In addition to that, in order for a gold filling to properly fit, you need to visit the dentist’s office multiple times. The advantage of gold is that it’s sturdy and corrosion-resistant, meaning it can last up to 15 years. Furthermore, even though it’s as easily seen as silver amalgam, many consider gold fillings aesthetically pleasing.


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