What Are Your Options When A Tooth Needs To Be Filled?

Our Chemsford dentists look at the various types of fillings that are available

Filling being setOne of the most common procedures that we carry out at Blue Sky Dental, and at most practices around the world, is the ‘filling’.

Usually used when a cavity has formed through decay, or sometimes where a tooth has broken, this usually straightforward treatment helps to restore a tooth to a functional level and provides strength for everyday use.

Most people will be aware of the amalgam material that is used for this procedure, but there are a number of different types of filling materials that are available. Their use will often be determined not only by the type of restoration required, but often by patient choice too.

This will depend on a number of factors, including aesthetics and cost, as we will see shortly. We are always happy to offer advice to help you choose the most appropriate filling material. Whichever you choose though, you can be sure that your local Chelmsford dentist will provide you with the best care possible.

Types of available fillings and their uses

Let us then take a look at the types of filling materials that are available, and the circumstances under which they might be used.

Amalgam fillings

These are perhaps the best known dental fillings and have provided strong restorative properties for many years. Although they are excellent for this, there are certain payoffs, including the fact that the colour of the filling is very dark, and therefore highly visible. It is also made from a combination of metals, one of which is mercury, a toxic substance that can be harmful in some circumstances. Tests have been carried out though which show that its use in fillings is safe and should be no cause for concern. Some people do avoid this material for that very reason however.

Finally, amalgam fillings can shrink over time, leaving a small gap between the tooth and the filling. This can cause further decay to occur as bacteria and food particles become trapped in the gap.

Tooth coloured fillings

Predominantly for aesthetic reasons, teeth coloured fillings are becoming increasingly popular. These can be made from different materials including resin, also known as composite fillings, and ceramic and similar materials. Composite fillings are bonded directly to the tooth and are generally where less strength is needed, often for largely cosmetic reasons. These do have their limits and may need to be replaced more often than other types. They will also discolour quicker too and are therefore often not the most obvious choice available.

Ceramic and similar materials however, offer similar benefits without the negatives. These are popular alternatives to amalgam fillings as they are made in a shade to match the colour of the natural tooth. This makes it almost invisible to those around you. In many cases, less of the natural tooth will need to be removed than with an amalgam filling due to the way they are placed. They will also not shrink as amalgam does, minimising the risk of further decay, providing that you look after your teeth well.

The only ‘drawback’ to this latter material is that they may not offer the same degree of strength as amalgam does. Whilst they are strong and will be sufficient for most types of filling, if a large cavity is present on a rear tooth which does most of the chewing and grinding, a tooth coloured filling may not be a suitable option. Amalgam can usually be used, but those seeking a more aesthetic solution may wish to consider onlays or inlays instead.

Gold fillings

Gold is a very strong material and is suitable for most types of cavities. The drawback here is obvious though and that is the cost. They are also very visible although this factor appeals to some people. For most people though, gold dental fillings are not the most appropriate solution.

Glass Ionomer

Finally, a lesser used material. This is made from a combination of glass and acrylic and is very unlikely to be used on a biting surface as it is one of the weaker materials available. It does have some uses though and may be used to protect a non biting surface. A good example of this is where they are used towards the neck of the tooth. They also release fluoride which helps to prevent further tooth decay. Generally though, these are unlikely to be used where regular decay or breakages have occurred.

Although fillings are widely used to restore decayed or damaged teeth, there are other treatments available which may be used depending on the situation. These include veneers and crowns amongst others. Where you require treatment, we are always happy to discuss the options available to you, explaining the pros and cons of each so that you are happy with the final results.

Whether you require a filling or other restorative treatment, or require cosmetic dental work to help you improve your smile, our friendly team are here to help you. Why not take the first step and arrange a consultation at our Chelmsford clinic? You can do so by calling Blue Sky Dental today on 01245 211070.

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