There are several types of dental fillings, each with its own benefits. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Millions of Americans get dental fillings every year, but few are familiar with the different types of fillings and their benefits. Whether you’re preparing for your first filling, or you’ve gotten several before, understanding the unique advantages of different fillings can help you choose the one that’s right for you.
With this guide, we’ll help you understand exactly what to expect from your next filling.
Why do people get fillings?
Dental fillings are used to repair tooth decay, and to seal up your tooth to prevent further damage. Preventing tooth decay starts with brushing your teeth twice a day, and flossing once daily — but even the best dental hygiene practices may not always protect against cavities. Chronically dry mouth, thin dental enamel, sugary or acidic diets, and other factors can lead to tooth decay even when your dental routine is top notch.
When plaque builds up around the surface of your teeth, bacteria from the plaque can create a hole in the outer layer of your tooth. This hole is called a cavity, and if it is left untreated, it can expand deeper into your tooth.
To repair a cavity with a filling, your dentist will create a slightly larger opening in your tooth, and insert a hardening material that can fit into the empty space. This serves to fill up the hole created by the cavity, and to seal off your tooth to prevent further decay.
What are the types of fillings?
When it comes to dental fillings, one size doesn’t fit all. There are several types of dental fillings, each with different benefits and drawbacks. Some fillings last longer than others, and some can more easily blend in with the appearance of your teeth.
Here’s your guide to the most common types of fillings in use today:
- Composite. Composite fillings are made of plastic and resin, which quickly harden under a blue curing light. Because composite fillings closely resemble your natural teeth, they are a popular option for patients who want their fillings to go unnoticed. Composite fillings have a mid-range lifespan, usually lasting from five to ten years.
- Ceramic. Ceramic fillings offer a natural appearance, like composite fillings. An added advantage of ceramic is its long average lifespan. Ceramic fillings are typically limited to larger cavities, however, since ceramic can be difficult to fit into tiny spaces without breaking. Additionally, ceramic is usually more expensive than composite.
- Glass ionomer. Also called “acrylic” fillings, glass ionomer fillings are especially helpful because they contain fluoride that prevents tooth decay. However, glass ionomer fillings rarely last longer than five years, so they are most often used in children’s teeth.
- Gold. Gold fillings have the longest lifespan among the different types of fillings, and they do not corrode easily. However, gold fillings have some major drawbacks — they are quite expensive, and they do not approximate the color of natural teeth.
Find the right filling at Espire
Whether you need a new filling or a replacement for an old one, the dentists at Espire can help you choose the right treatment for your teeth. With locations across the Denver metro area, Espire offers patient-centric dental care in a convenient location.
To learn more about which dental filling is right for you, request an appointment today. Your smile is too important to wait!