Dental fillings are restorations used to fill in areas damaged by cavities. A dentist removes the decayed tissue from the tooth and fills in the missing area with a restoration. Dentists have used fillings for more than a century to restore and protect teeth, using various materials such as copper, gold, silver, tin—even beeswax. Today, there are different types of dental fillings made with more modern and durable materials, according to Dr. Mojgan Mazhari of Alexandria Dental Health & Smile Studio.
An Alexandria, Virginia, Dentist Discusses Different Types of Fillings
“Gone are the days when our ancestors had to rely on tar, beeswax, or other materials to repair their damaged teeth,” Dr. Mazhari says in this article. “Your professional dentist can restore your teeth to prevent further harm and protect your tooth with these filling materials.”
Made of a mix of ceramics and plastics, “composite resin is durable and ideal for people who want a restoration that’s not obvious in their mouths, although they tend to be a bit more expensive,” she says. Composite resin fillings last about five years.
“Glass ionomer fillings are commonly used to fill cavities on the front teeth or around the tooth roots,” Dr. Mazhari says. “Their composition varies but the main ingredients are usually calcium and silica including fluorite to protect teeth from further decay.” However, they’re not quite as durable, which threatens filling longevity.
Although once a common choice as a filling, Dr. Mazhari says gold is more cost-prohibitive, plus it looks more obvious in the mouth, so most patients don’t choose it. “But while they’re more expensive, gold fillings are very durable and can last more than two decades,” she adds.
This is a type of ceramic. They’re quite a popular choice because they’re “designed to match the color of your teeth and last upwards of 20 years,” Dr. Mazhari says. Since there’s no metal, there’s also less potential for an allergic reaction.
These fillings are composed of various materials, including mercury, silver, tin, and copper, plus about 50 percent mercury. “Despite their mercury content, the American Dental Association maintains that amalgam fillings are safe, as mercury isn’t considered toxic once it’s combined with the other filling materials,” she says. Although durable, many people don’t like the look of metal in their mouths and want a dental restoration that matches their natural teeth.
Consult an experienced dentist who will assess your condition and discuss the various pros and cons of each dental filling option based on your needs.