Despite patients’ best efforts at dental hygiene, cavities are an all too common occurrence. When it comes time to fight tooth decay through restorative dentistry, why not utilize the best filling materials available? Metal amalgam has long been used to fill cavities, and is still used widely today, but it’s not always the best choice. Both cosmetically and practically, tooth-colored fillings offer benefits that surpass conventional metal fillings, giving patients a stronger and more attractive smile. If you require restorative dental work in the Sugar Land area, consider the advantages of tooth-colored fillings.
The Case against Amalgam
Metal amalgam, or a silver filling, is a commonly chosen material with which to fill cavities. Its durability and relatively inexpensive cost make it a practical choice for many patients. However, when examined in relation to other dental materials, the benefits of amalgam are not always worth it.
First, and most obviously, amalgam is noticeable. The dark, metallic color contrasts against the surrounding tooth, making it clear exactly where the filling is. Even when fillings are located in the back of the mouth, the metal compound can be easily recognizable when smiling or laughing.
Additionally, amalgam requires a greater amount of tooth tissue to be removed for placement. Because metal does not naturally bond with teeth, the inside of the cavity must be resurfaced for proper adhesion, resulting in additional drilling.
Even the conventional longevity of metal fillings must be questioned, as they carry some risk to the tooth. Since metal is highly responsive to temperature, drastic temperature changes can cause the filling to expand or contract, potentially resulting in a tooth that cracks. Even when a tooth remains intact, the filling’s conductivity may result in sensitivity while consuming cold food or drink.
The Benefits of Composite Fillings
Composite resin is a popular choice for tooth-colored fillings, and is generally the next step up from regular amalgam. While composite is a bit more expensive, it offers numerous benefits over metal fillings:
- Aesthetics: Composite is colored like natural enamel, blending in more discreetly than amalgam. In many cases, it can be difficult to discern where the filling ends and where natural tooth tissue begins.
- Easily shaped: After composite hardens and bonds to the tooth, it can be subtly reshaped at the occlusal surface to align with the patient’s bite pattern. This results in both a natural appearance and improved comfort.
- Insulation of the tooth: Unlike metal, composite is highly resistant to temperature change, keeping teeth insulated in extreme temperatures and not risking cracking the tooth via expansion.
- Natural bond: Composite bonds far more easily with tooth tissue, requiring less removal of healthy tissue for its adhesion.
- Strength and support: Composite fillings restore a tooth’s strength to nearly that of what is was prior to decay, helping to deter future damage to a tooth that would be otherwise weakened.
It also worth noting that while composite is traditionally regarded as having a shorter lifespan than amalgam, this discrepancy is becoming increasingly obsolete. As technology and synthetic dental materials increase in efficiency, composite fillings last longer.
The Benefits of Porcelain
Porcelain offers additional aesthetic benefits to patients, with added durability as well. While porcelain inlays and onlays – a comparable alternative to larger fillings – may take longer to install and be more expensive, some patients see the benefit in using the highest quality of restorations.
First and foremost, porcelain offers the most realistic appearance when it comes to dental materials. Each inlay or onlay is carefully matched to a tooth’s color, complementing a smile precisely. The surface of porcelain is also nearly identical to enamel, reflecting light just as teeth naturally would.
Furthermore, porcelain inlays and onlays can be expected to last just as long, if not longer, than amalgam or any other restorative material. Given proper care and hygiene, porcelain is highly resistant to wear and staining. For larger cavities, especially those at the front of the mouth, consider how a porcelain inlay or onlay may keep your smile as beautiful and strong as possible.
Learn More about Tooth-colored Fillings
We are happy to help you through every step of the restorative process, giving you comprehensive information on each of our treatment options. To learn more about tooth-colored fillings or any of our dental materials, contact our office to schedule an exam or consultation.