Have you ever set up a long-overdue dentist appointment while hoping and praying you don’t have any cavities…only to learn that you do? If you don’t have the time to get them filled that day, then a follow-up treatment will be necessary to fill the cavity. Back in the day, some people had a mouth full of gold or silver fillings, but today, a filling is not what it used to be. Metal fillings have played an important role in treating dental cavities, but the color has made the number of cavities in a person’s mouth much too obvious and unattractive. As a result, many people now opt for more natural-looking or tooth-colored fillings.
Cast Gold Fillings: Gold has been used to repair teeth problems for thousands of years, however, this precious metal is an expensive option. This high-quality mineral does not corrode, and it can last up to 15 or more years. Also, it is a long process to use gold for fillings because it requires two appointments: First to remove the decay and take an impression, and second to permanently cement the gold filling into the tooth. As valuable as gold is, it may or may not be worth having it as a filling.
Amalgam Fillings: You know the dark, silver spots you may have seen in some elderly folks’ mouths? This is known as an amalgam filling, which is a mixture of different metals, including silver, tin, mercury, copper, and zinc. These types of fillings are the least expensive. However, to get the job done, more of a tooth’s structure has to be removed before installing the filling, and once they are in, they tend to corrode over time and cause discoloration to the tooth enamel. One of the greatest disadvantages of these types of fillings is that they are unattractive whenever someone opens their mouth.
Natural-Looking Fillings: Tooth-colored fillings are composite resins that are made up of a blend of plastic and glass particles. This material is not only great at repairing cavities but can even go the extra mile by changing the color or shape of a tooth. These fillings only need one appointment because the procedure is simple and fairly quick. Your dentist will choose the shade of composite closest to your natural tooth color, and then decay will be removed. Next, a special curing light will be used to harden the layers of the filling material. Lastly, the filling will be shaped and polished so that it remains smooth and natural-looking.
Benefits of Natural-Looking Fillings
Healthier: These fillings require minimal tooth removal, which preserves the inherent structure. When a tooth has more of its natural structure, it can stay healthier and lessens its chances of tooth decay or oral health issues later on.
Tooth-Colored: Natural-looking fillings replicate the structure and shade of the tooth so they maintain the mouth’s aesthetics. Those who are in need of teeth restorations can do so without it affecting the appearance of their teeth whenever they talk or smile.
Durable and Safe: These fillings have proven to repair teeth exceptionally well with the tough, long-lasting composite. Traditionally, amalgam fillings would expand and contract with temperature changes. As a result, this put pressure on the tooth, causing it to crack or even break. Natural-looking fillings do not have this issue, which is why they are a safer option.
Reduced Sensitivity: Unlike metal fillings, natural-looking fillings will not be sensitive to extreme temperature changes. Teeth will still feel strong and able to withstand either a hot coffee or ice-cold water without any discomfort.
Mercury-Free: Mercury is a toxic material in amalgam fillings. Although the amount of mercury is low enough that it is not considered dangerous to your health, this is still a point to consider.
A lucky few have never had a cavity, and may never have the cavity-filling experience, but for the rest of us, getting a cavity filled is a normal part of life. Thankfully, we now have natural-looking fillings that have made it possible to keep our teeth healthy, strong, and attractive!