Type of Dental Fillings
There are several types of dental fillings: amalgam (silver), composite
(white) and gold fillings. Let's take a look at the various dental fillings in
Composite fillings are usually more expensive than traditional amalgam
fillings because they require a more sophisticated process, more expensive
materials and additional office equipment. Composite materials offer an
esthetic alternative to traditional amalgam materials. Composites are more
likely to be used on more-visible front teeth. Composites bond to the tooth to
support the remaining tooth to help prevent breakage.
Composite insulate the tooth from
excessive temperature changes. Composites (white fillings) last about 8 years
with a range of 7-10 years. Composite fillings restore the natural appearance
of the tooth. Composites require less removal of tooth structure. Composite
fillings, if they are done correctly, take about 60% longer, require special
expertise and expensive materials, and are more difficult to place, and so
they cost considerably more than silver.
Composite requires the use of
special bonding technology that many dentists are uncomfortable with.
Composite resin dental fillings were created as an alternative to traditional
metal dental fillings. Composites are not only used for restoring decay, but
are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of
the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth. Composite resin fillings are strong,
durable, and make for a very natural looking smile.
Composite fillings are usually
more expensive than traditional amalgam fillings because they require a more
sophisticated process, more expensive materials and additional office
equipment. As such, people who have previously received amalgam fillings often
return to their dentist to have them replaced with composite fillings.
Amalgam is one of the best filling materials when dentists need to place
fillings in areas of the mouth that are difficult to keep dry, such as molars
(back teeth) or cavities below the gum line. Amalgam or composite resin are
the most common materials. Amalgam and composite fillings are the most popular
but glass ionomers are gaining recognition and my dentist went over those with
me last time I was in his office. Amalgam fillings are the cheapest and the
cast gold fillings have the longest durability (up to 15 years).
Amalgam fillings have a silver
coloring which some people don't want in their mouth in which case they choose
the tooth colored composite style. Amalgam is a metal, which expands and
contracts with hot, cold and biting. Amalgam fillings also raise a red flag
because they contain mercury, which is a very toxic element. Amalgam Fillings
Amalgam fillings may contain mercury, and are often referred to as metal
Amalgam fillings are a mixture of
mercury liquid and small pieces of silver and other metals such as copper, tin
and zinc. Amalgam fillings are made up of a composition of metals containing
silver, copper, tin and zinc and mercury liquid. Amalgam: A silver/mercury
mixture, which is used for fillings.
Amalgam tends to be self sealing
which means that once it is placed, a small amount of corrosion takes place
underneath the filling and this corrosion fills microscopic voids between the
tooth and the filling. Amalgam fillings must engage undercuts within the
cavity preparation so they will not dislodge. Amalgam also requires a minimum
depth of a millimeter and a half in order to form its crystalline structure
while composite fillings have no minimum depth. Amalgam fillings are normally
fitted onto the back ‘chewing’ teeth.
Amalgam, gold or porcelain
fillings cannot be used with laser or air abrasion prepared fillings. Amalgam
fillings, like other filling materials, are considered biocompatible they are
well tolerated by patients with only rare occurrences of allergic response.
Amalgam is widely used for direct fillings, and done in single appointment.
Amalgam fillings expand with age, possibly cracking the tooth and requiring
repair and filling replacement. Amalgam removed from teeth is classified as
toxic waste in various countries, but in many countries it is not regulated,
including the United States.
Silver Mercury Fillings
Silver mercury fillings that were
placed years ago, before bonding technology, may need to be replaced to
prevent fractures. Silver weakens the teeth, making them more susceptible to
breaking. Silver fillings have a longer history of use than mercury-free
fillings, thus some feel that they are more tried and tested.
Silver amalgams used in large
class II molar restorations; invariably cause a tattoo phenomenon of permanent
tooth discoloration to a violet-gray/green tinge and even brown/black tint,
this is quite evident when a clinician attempts the removal, replacement or
repair of a failing old silver-amalgam restoration. Silver fillings
("Amalgam") are becoming a thing of the past.
Silver fillings the most common
type of dental filling are not actually pure silver, but a combination of
silver, mercury, tin and copper. Silver Amalgam is the most commonly used
material in the restoration of decayed teeth in the world. Silver amalgam is a
popular dental filling that has been used extensively worldwide for over 200
Gold fillings are well tolerated by sensitive patients and are resistant to
corrosion, tarnishing, and wear and tear but are among the most expensive
filling materials. Gold fillings are often requested by patients for their
aesthetic appeal. Gold fillings require more work on behalf of the dentist,
and thus the prices of these fillings are much higher then for plastic resins
and silver fillings.
Gold fillings also take much
longer to produce, and several visits to the dentist are required for tooth
moldings and fittings. Gold fillings which are defective from imperfect
adaptation to an enamel margin, from recurrence of caries, or from fracture,
are often susceptible to repair. Gold fillings give the tightest seal to the
tooth. Gold fillings have excellent durability, wear well, and do not cause
excessive wear to the opposing teeth, but they do conduct heat and cold, which
can be irritating.
Gold fillings are usually quite
expensive, although they do last a very long time. When you have gold
fillings, you can expect them to last at a minimum of 15 years with proper
oral care. The dentist will recommend gold fillings for your teeth if they
will not be visible when you smile or talk. Restoration of gold fillings is
considerably more expensive then that of its counterparts.
There are two categories of gold
fillings, cast gold fillings (gold inlays and onlays) made with 14 or 18 kt
gold, and gold foil made with pure 24 kt gold that is burnished layer by
layer. Recent advances in dental porcelains and consumer focus on aesthetic
results have caused demand for gold fillings to drop in favor of advanced
composites and porcelain veneers and crowns.
How Long Do Fillings Last?
On average, amalgam fillings are expected to last approximately 12 years,
while composite fillings are expected to last five to seven years.
Cost of Dental Fillings
Information about Cavity Fillings: types, costs, pros and cons. Disadvantages:
cost more than dental amalgam, material shrinks when hardened, may leak over
time. Disadvantages: Cost is similar to Composite resin, not recommended for
biting surfaces and permanent teeth, could increase chance of periodontal
disease. Disadvantages: conducts heat and cold, may irritate sensitive teeth,
high cost, may cause wear to opposing teeth.
Disadvantages: is not
tooth-colored, may cause tooth sensitivity, high cost, requires at least 2
office visits. Your dentist can help you choose which type of tooth filling is
best for you based on the size of the space to be filled, aesthetics,
durability of dental filling materials and dental filling costs. Patients love
them because they're more durable than most dental fillings and less costly
than a dental crown.
A) Composite fillings usually
cost more than dental amalgam fillings. As a basis of comparison, the cost of
a dental amalgam filling will usually be on the order of about 25% to 30% less
than the cost of a comparable dental composite filling. This price difference
reflects the relative cost of the materials involved and the relatively
greater amount of time it takes the dentist to place a white filling as
compared to a dental amalgam filling.
Although costs vary across the
country and by dental office, the cost of typical metal filling ranges from
approximately $75 to $145 per filling, whereas a composite resin fillings
range from $150 to $200 for a single surface white composite filling. Types of
dental fillings, methods and costs all differ depending on the specific case
and the dentist performing the procedure.
This avoids repeat dentistry and
is the cost-effective option for the long term. The main disadvantage of metal
fillings is the high cost of the fillings, and it requires at two visits tot
eh dentist. Composite filling is most costly and most accurate dental filling
material. The dental insurance company in turn provides coverage against any
occurring dental costs. But since different types of fillings are better for
different dental conditions, your dentist will help you decide which type of
filling is right for you based on factors including the location and severity
of the decay, the cost of the filling, and your insurance coverage.
But gold fillings can cost as
much as 10 times more than silver amalgam fillings, and it takes more than one
office visit to fit them properly. Composite Resin Tooth-Colored Fillings
Aesthetics shade/color can be matched to existing teeth well suited for front
teeth use Versatility in uses in addition to use as a filling material for
decay, composite fillings can also be used to repair chipped, broken or worn
teeth Tooth-sparing preparation less tooth structure may need to be removed
compared with amalgams.
Durability may not last as long
as amalgams on average Increased treatment time because of the process to
apply the composite material Chipping depending on location, composite
materials can chip off the tooth Expense composite fillings can cost up to
twice the cost of amalgams.
Does Insurance pay for Dental Fillings?
While most dental insurance coverage will only cover a percentage, usually 50%
to 80%, of these fillings. Dental Insurance can be rather expensive to opt for
and it mostly becomes difficult to pay for expensive
insurance premiums. What you need a dental treatment done by
dentists that include specific types of insurance.