White Filling (Composite Resin)
- Made of: A mixture of plastic and fine glass particles.
- Types: Direct - fillings are placed by your dentist using a bright blue light that hardens the soft material.
- Used for: Small and large fillings, especially in front teeth or the visible parts of teeth; also for inlays
- Lasts: At least five years, usually longer
- Costs: More than amalgam, but less than gold
- Your fillings or inlay will match the colour of your teeth.
- A filling can be completed in one dental visit.
- Composite fillings can bond directly to the tooth. This makes the tooth stronger than it would be with an amalgam filling.
- Less drilling is involved than with amalgam fillings. That's because your dentist does not have to shape the space as much to hold the filling securely. The bonding process holds the composite resin in the tooth.
- Composite fillings are heat-cured. This step increases their strength.
- Composite resin can be used in combination with other materials, such as pin, post or screw, to provide the strength of the crown.
- Composite resins cost more than amalgam fillings.
- Although composite resins have become stronger and more resistant to wear, it's not clear whether they last as long as amalgam fillings under the pressure of chewing.
- The composite may shrink when placed, producing gaps between the tooth and the filling. The shrinkage is reduced when your dentist places this type of filling in thin layers.
- These fillings take more time to place. That's because they are usually placed in layers. The increased time and labour involved also contribute to the higher cost.
Silver Filling (Amalgam)
- Made of: A mixture of silver, tin, zinc, copper and mercury. Mercury is nearly 50% of the mixture.
- Types: Traditional (non-bonded)
- Used for: Fillings in back teeth
- Lasts: At least 10 years, usually longer
- Costs: The least expensive type of restorative material
- They are less sensitive to moisture during the filling process than composite resin.
- They are less costly than the alternatives.
- They can withstand the forces of chewing.
- Amalgam fillings can be completed in one dental visit.
- Amalgam doesn't match the color of your teeth.
- Amalgam fillings can corrode or tarnish over time. This can cause discoloration where the filling meets the tooth.
- A traditional (non-bonded) amalgam filling does not bond (hold together) with your tooth.
- The cavity preparation (the "pocket" in your tooth) developed by your dentist requires undercuts or ledges to keep the filling in place. Your dentist may have to remove more of the tooth to create a secure pocket.
- Some people may be allergic to mercury or be concerned about its effects.
What to expect during a filling:
- Local anaesthesia – at the beginning of your filling procedure, you may be given local anaesthesia to numb the area around the tooth.
- Tooth decay removal – then the dentist will cut through the enamel using a drill to remove any decay. After the dentist removes the decay, the dentist will shape the space to ready it for the filling.
- Etching – for a bonded filling your dentist will etch the tooth with an acid gel before placing the filling.
- Resin application – for certain types of fillings the dentist will layer on the resin and harden it using a bright light. This makes it strong.
- Polishing – after the filling has been placed, your dentist will polish the tooth.
Cavities are no fun, and nobody likes getting a filling, but…. it has to be done.