Dental fillings have come a long way over the years, and today there are many dental filling options beyond the traditional metal fillings. Several factors influence the performance, durability, and cost of dental restorations. These factors include: the patients oral ad general health, the components used in the filling material; where and how the filling is placed; the chewing load that the tooth will have to bear; and length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth. The types of dental fillings that are currently available include:
- Amalgam fillings. Amalgam has been used for many years to fill cavities and it is still widely used today. It is a resilient combination of elemental metals, and may include components of mercury, silver, tin, copper and other metals. Since they are silver in color, they are not as good as tooth- colored fillings for use in more visible teeth near the front of the mouth. Amalgam contains mercury and this has generated questions on its safety. High mercury exposure is linked to some neurological, particularly among infants and children. However, research carried out by National Institutes of Health has determined that dental amalgam is a safe option for fillings. The other metals used in amalgam fillings are thought to stabilize the mercury component and reduce the risk of ill effects.
- Composite fillings. Composite is a tooth colored material that is made of glass or quartz and resin. Composite fillings are durable and more natural looking than amalgam fillings. They are generally more costly than amalgam fillings and can take longer to place. In addition, composite fillings may become stained over time.
- Glass ionomer fillings. Glass ionomers are translucent, tooth colored materials made of a mixture of acrylic acids and fine glass powders that are used to fill cavities, particularly those on the root surfaces of teeth. They release a small amount of fluoride that may be beneficial for patients who are at high risk for decay.
- Resin ionomer fillings. They are similar to glass ionomers, resin ionomers are natural looking fillings that are also made from acrylic and glass filler. They are usually used to fill small cavities between teeth or on the root surfaces of teeth.
- Custom- made dental restorations. This type of filling includes a custom made inlay that fills the removed portion of the tooth. Along with a crown that covers the top and sides of your tooth. It takes two or more visits to place a custom made restoration.