Whether you have cavities or know someone who does, you know that they are treated with dental fillings.
Dental fillings, or inlays are made of a variety of substances that "fill in" and cover holes in the tooth from where the tooth decay was extracted.
With advances in dental technology over the years, new, additional filling materials are now available including porcelain, tooth-colored and composite resin dental inlays.
Whatever your current ones are getting worn and are ready to be replaced or you're curious about what your other cavity treatment options are dental out there, here are the pros and cons of each type of dental filling:
The location and amount of the decay, cost of the material, your insurance coverage, and your dentist's recommendation can assist you in determining the type that is best for you.
Cast Gold Fillings
Long-Lasting. These options do not corrode and can last more than 10 years.
Strong. Gold fills can easily withstand the pressure of constant chewing.
Cost. Gold inlays cost more than other types.
Multiple Office Visits. These fillings require a minimum of two dental office visits to properly place.
Galvanic Shock. In rare instances, patients getting a gold filling next to an amalgam (silver) filling may experience the sharp, sudden pain of galvanic shock between the two metals.
Aesthetically Unappealing Look. These inlays stand out from the rest of the patient's teeth, making them easily visible.
Silver Fillings (Amalgams)
Long-Lasting. These can last a minimum of 10 years.
Strong. Amalgam fillings can easily withstand the wear, tear and pressure of everyday chewing and biting.
Cheap. They are less expensive than gold or composite options.
Poor Aesthetics. Like gold, silver amalgam fillings stand out from the rest of the patient's teeth, making them easily noticeable.
More Tooth is Lost. Much of the tooth will need to be removed to make room for amalgam inlays.
Risk of Discoloration. A blueish, grayish hue on the tooth can occur.
Risk of Cracks and Fractures. Amalgam fillings tend to expand and contract more than other filling materials when in contact with cold and heat, causing cracks and fractures of the teeth.
Possible Allergic Reactions. The mercury found in these tooth inlays can cause allergic reactions for some patients.
Aesthetically Pleasing. Composite fillings can be made to match the color of the rest of the tooth, blending in to the rest of the patient's teeth.
Secure Bonding to the Tooth. The chemical bonding of composite provide additional structure and support to the tooth.
Versatility. The tooth-colored composite material can also be used to treat chipped, worn or broken teeth.
More Tooth. Less of the tooth is removed to place these inlays than what is needed for amalgam fillings.
Not as Durable. These composite fillings do not last as long as other types and are less resistant to the pressure of chewing.
Longer to Get Place. Composite inlays require patients to stay in the dental chair longer to have them properly placed.
Multiple Office Visits. If a patient is getting the composite stuffing for inlays and / or onlays, multiple dental office visits.
Risk of Chipping. Composite fills can chip off the tooth.
Expense. These can cost significantly more than other types.
Other Filling Types
There are other types of tooth stuffing treatments. These include porcelain ceramic fillings and glass ionomer fillings. Porcelain ceramic options are very durable, lasting 15 years or more and are resistant to staining. However, they are more abrasive and can cost the same as gold ones.
Glass ionomer fillings are made of a certain type of glass material and acrylic. These options are less expensive and release fluoride that offers more protection to teeth. Glass fills, however, do not last long and are more susceptible to teeth fracture and wear.
Over the years, there has been concern with silver amalgam restorations and the mercury contained in them. Some holistic dentists favor tooth-colored composite ones instead and offer affordable, safe amalgam removal.
Your dentist will be able to examine and diagnose what is happening in your mouth and be able to recommend the right inlay option for you.
The right type of filling for you will depend on many factors including your dental insurance coverage, the location of the filling and personal preferences.