What’s Up with Silver Fillings?

Dental FillingsDental caries.

Who knows what those are? You’ve probably never heard the term, or you may know them by their far more familiar name, cavities. Ah, we’ve all heard of those because just about every one of us has at least one filled cavity in their mouth.

If you’re older, odds are most of your fillings are silver and you can see them clearly when you open your mouth. If you’re on the younger side, your fillings may not be noticeable as they’re made with composite resin or porcelain.

Here are the different types of fillings we use at Gentle Dental.

Types of fillings

Silver amalgam is what those silver spots on your molars are. Silver amalgam has been the favored material for fillings since the 19th century. It’s actually kind of a scary mix of stuff: 50% mercury mixed with silver, copper, tin, or zinc. The popularity of silver amalgam fillings is price — they are the least expensive option available. Generally, the lifespan of an amalgam filling is 10 years, but they can last far longer.

Composite fillings are made of ceramic resin, a combination of plastic and glass. Resin tends to bond better with the tooth and usually doesn’t require removal of as much healthy tooth to make room for the filling (compared to amalgam). People like composite fillings because you can’t see them; it is easy to match the color to the patient’s natural tooth color. The problem with composite is that at this point (although resins are getting better) they are not as durable as other filling materials.

Ceramic or porcelain fillings have the combination of being very durable and being invisible, since porcelain basically matches the color of natural teeth. Ceramic or porcelain fillings are more expensive than composites or amalgam, but they resist stains and are not easily scratched (composite fillings can be scratched).

Glass ionomer fillings are made of a combination of acrylic and glass. At Gentle Dental we generally use glass ionomer fillings for children’s baby teeth, just to get them to where their permanent teeth replace the filled tooth or teeth. These fillings last less than five years, but they have the side benefit of being designed to release fluoride over time, which helps prevent further decay.

Gold fillings used to be very popular, despite being more expensive. This is because gold fillings can last for 15 to 20 years. They are sturdy, non-corrosive, and don’t tend to crack the filled teeth as amalgam sometimes can. Still, they are very visible when the patient’s mouth is open, hence their declining popularity.

Is it time to schedule your regular exam and cleaning with the Gentle Dental team? Call us at (732) 549-5660 to make your appointment.

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