Dental fillings are used to close cavities and restore a decayed tooth to its original shape and contour. In the recent times, two types of dental fillings are being widely used, namely composite resin fillings and ceramic or porcelain fillings. Both of them are white fillings and contribute to the aesthetics as well as restoring the functionality of the infected tooth.
Earlier, metal fillings were being used to fill cavities. Metals such as silver amalgam, mercury, and gold were used for this purpose. They were effective in filling cavities.
What are the disadvantages of getting metal fillings?
- Metal fillings would leave an unappealing black appearance on the teeth.
- They had a tendency of expanding or contracting over time. This would cause the tooth to develop cracks or even fracture.
- Mercury fillings often caused toxic reactions with the enamel and pulp, thereby leading to infections.
- They would be clearly visible if applied to the frontal teeth, unlike ceramic or composite fillings.
Due to all the drawbacks of metal fillings, composite and ceramic fillings are being used to fill cavities. So what makes them better than metal fillings?
What makes white fillings desirable?
- The most important advantage of white fillings is that they are aesthetically very pleasing.
- They can be made to match the exact translucency and color of the tooth, making them indistinguishable from the natural tooth.
- They cover the cavity completely and establish a perfect seal, thereby preventing further tooth decay.
- They are highly durable.
- They are long-lasting, i.e. up to 30 years for ceramic fillings and up to 10 years for composite resin fillings.
- They do not stain easily. A bright smile can be maintained with regular brushing.
- They are safe and non-reactive with the enamel.
- Less amount of natural tooth has to be removed for ceramic fillings to be applied.
- They don't need multiple visits. Most often, they are completed in one visit to the dentist's office.
Before dental filling is applied, the cavity has to be disinfected. The dentist will numb the tooth, remove the decay and thoroughly clean it. If the decay has reached the nerves, medication will be applied to the cavity in order to treat it. Later, the filling material is applied to the cavity, shaped and polished to match the rest of the tooth. Initially, sensitivity and pain in the restored tooth are common, before it wears off after a few days. Proper dental care is a must to avoid any cavities in the future and also to maintain the filling. Fillings which receive proper maintenance last for a long time.