Cavities are in the top 3 most common dental ailments worldwide. Research shows that over 90% of all adults will suffer from at least one cavity in their lifetimes.
If you are reading this, then you probably fall into this vast majority too and you are looking for reliable solutions to the problem.
Fortunately, thanks to their widespread nature, the technology to fix cavities has evolved greatly in the past 7-10 years. Your dentist has numerous options to fill in cavities — each with its own set of pros and cons.
In this article, we break down the most important facts related to “white fillings” so that you know what to expect with this treatment.
Dental fillings are typically classified according to the material used to fill cavities. There are metal fillings made from single elements like gold or amalgams. The second broad type is “white fillings,” which match the color and texture of surrounding teeth.
Using gold or mercury amalgams is a traditional method of “restoration” or filling cavities. The dentist will prepare a malleable mixture of the metal and plug the cavity in the teeth. Although metal fillings have high longevity and proven results in preventing future chipping or breakage, they still have some major drawbacks.
Amalgam fillings tend to be dark colors, like grey or black. This makes them very prominent when you open your mouth to eat, speak, or laugh. Second, most amalgams use a small amount of mercury in the mixture. Though the trace amounts are not enough to cause any harm, one might still want to avoid long-term exposure to the metal.
Properties of white fillings
Composite fillings are prepared from a type of durable plastic resin that completely plugs the hole in the teeth. The filling is flexible and can be easily molded to match the size and shape of the tooth in question.
The most significant benefit of composite fillings is that they can be an exact color match to your teeth. Your dental technician will customize the filling material to suit the tint and texture of your teeth to ensure that nothing looks out of place.
This is an ideal solution, especially for filling cavities in the front of the jaw — a highly visible part of your face.
Additionally, it is easier to push the filling into smaller cavities, which means that the natural tooth is retained to the maximum extent possible. Unlike metal fillings, there is no need to drill a base into the damaged tooth to create a base for the filling.
Composite fillings are also relatively inexpensive and the restoration procedure only takes a few minutes.
Longevity of composite fillings: Depending on your dental hygiene and care protocol, composite fillings can last up to 12-15 years with no hassles. You should expect the filling to hold its strength for at least 5 years. This is shorter than the longevity period of amalgam fillings.
Porcelain fillings (or ceramic, as they are commonly called) are made from medical-grade porcelain chips. They are prepared in a laboratory, based on the precise shape of the damaged tooth. The technician files away a piece of ceramic to the exact dimensions required to fill in the cavity or breakage. This is then glued onto the tooth with a special adhesive.
Like composite fillings, each porcelain filling is also customized for the patient’s particular tooth color and texture. Because porcelain has a sheen and texture naturally similar to that of teeth, this type of filling is almost invisible to the naked eye. It looks and feels so much like the real deal that you yourself might forget that you have fillings in your teeth.
Compared to composite fillings, they are more expensive and have a slightly longer restoration procedure.
Longevity of porcelain fillings: You can expect this type of filling to last at least 10-20 years with proper care. A majority of patients also report that their porcelain fillings last them a lifetime thanks to appropriate precautions and avoiding dental stress.
Glass ionomers are a special dental filling made from acrylic and glass. This mixture is weaker than ceramic or resin, and hence glass ionomer fillings are used to fill smaller cavities. It is recommended to use them closer to the gum line rather than the chewing ends of the teeth to prevent unnecessary stress on the filling material.
Longevity of glass ionomer fillings: They are the least durable kind of white fillings and typically last up to 5-7 years. However, their benefit is that they can be applied very easily and plug tiny cavities to prevent further damage.
Caring for your white fillings
Following the right dental hygiene protocols can drastically improve how long your fillings last. Doctors recommend the following precautionary and preventive measures to care for your white fillings:
● Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristle brush and use toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
● Floss regularly to prevent plaque build-up.
● Do not put undue pressure on your teeth by biting down on hard objects or using your teeth to tear tape or packages.
● Visit your dentist for follow-ups and cleaning sessions every six months.
● Avoid sugary drinks. These increase the risk of biofilm formation and subsequent infection.
● Avoid staining foods, like artificially colored drinks or desserts.
● Limit eating hard foods like nuts, popcorn, hard candy, etc.
● Avoid tobacco and alcohol.
Using the right type of filling in your cavities is an investment in your long-term oral health. Dentists recommend early intervention for cavities to prevent tooth and gum degeneration in the future.
We provide the best in class dental care at Natural Smiles and we are committed to giving you the healthy and bright smile you deserve. Book an appointment for your initial consultation today.Back to Blog
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