Did you know that nearly 80% of all children will get a cavity before reaching adulthood? Fortunately, recent technological advancements in dental medicine can make restoring your teeth easier than ever. Read on to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about cavities and dental fillings.
What Is a Dental Filling?
A dental filling is a special material used to restore the structure, integrity, and function of a damaged tooth. When a cavity is present in a tooth, a dentist must remove the decay, sanitize the affected area, and replace the extracted tooth material with a dental filling in order to prevent further decay. The most common types of materials used in dental fillings include amalgam, composite resin, porcelain, and gold.
What Are the Different Types of Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings can be manufactured out of several different types of materials. The most common types of dental fillings include amalgam, composite, ceramic, and gold.
- Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, are the most widely used dental filling. They are made from a mixture of silver, mercury, tin, copper, and zinc. Amalgam fillings are a popular choice for their durability, strength, and low cost; however, their dark color makes them more noticeable than other options. Amalgam fillings can last up to 15 years.
- Composite fillings, also known as white fillings, are the most popular type of filling among patients due to their natural-looking appearance. Composite fillings are made from a resin or plastic material that is hardened or cured with a specialized light. Although not as long-lasting or durable as amalgam fillings, composite fillings have quickly become the most popular type of dental filling. Composite fillings typically last 5 to 10 years.
- Ceramic fillings, commonly called inlays or onlays, are made from a porcelain tooth-colored material. These fillings are durable, stain-resistant, and aesthetically pleasing, but are not appropriate for all dental cavities.
- Gold fillings are made from a sturdy, non-corrosive gold material. Although gold fillings are the most expensive type of dental filling, they can last for over 15 years.
How Do I Know If I Need a Dental Filling?
Although only a qualified dentist can determine if you have a cavity that needs to be filled, there are several symptoms that can alert you to the possibility of dental decay. Some of the most common symptoms of a cavity include sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods, tooth pain, and a dark-colored area on the tooth. Obtaining necessary dental fillings at the first sign of a cavity can help prevent further tooth decay and restore your teeth to their optimal health.