A dental filling is a way of restoring a tooth to healthy form, function and appearance. We will remove the decay, old or broken filling and clean the tooth thoroughly before rebuilding the tooth with new filling material. By restoring the tooth to healthy shape, or repairing broken filling or tooth, we prevent new decay from starting in this weak spot. Tooth fillings are made of a few different materials. Your dentist will advise and discuss with you the best material for your needs. Materials for fillings commonly include tooth coloured materials like Composite Resin, Glass Ionomer, or Porcelain. Alternatively, Amalgam Alloy and sometimes Gold may be used. These materials all have different properties, advantages and disadvantages.
Composite resin is a tooth coloured material used primarily in front teeth. Patients and clinicians like this material because it is hard to tell the filling from the tooth once the restoration is complete. Composite resin sets when exposed to light of a certain wavelength, so the tooth can be used as normal once the filling is complete. Composite fillings may stain over time due to tea, coffee and red wine and they are not as strong as an amalgam restoration. Most composite restorations will last about 5-7 years.
Amalgam Alloy (silver) filling
Amalgam alloy is a strong material for restoring teeth. It is terrific for large restorations in back teeth and is capable of lasting a long time. Amalgam has been used to restore teeth for many decades with great success. Amalgam fillings typically last around 10+ years. Due to their silver colour however, amalgam fillings are not suitable for front teeth. Amalgam fillings do not set immediately, avoiding eating for a couple of hours, then eating on the other side of your mouth for 24 hours is recommended following a filling.
Gold fillings (inlay/onlay)
Gold is not pressed into a tooth, it is manufactured into the correct shape in the laboratory. It is a more costly option, but is a very tooth and gum friendly material which is well tolerated by patients. Gold is literally, the “gold standard” in dental care. Gold restorations typically last for 20+ years. This type of restoration is performed over a couple of visits, the cavity is prepared, then a couple of weeks later the restoration is cemented into place.
Porcelain / Zirconia fillings (inlay/onlay)
Porcelain can also be milled into shape to fill a tooth. Its main advantage is in its exact colour match to your natural teeth. They are more resistant to staining and are stronger than a composite filling, particularly in the back teeth. They can be used when a larger restoration is required, but strength and durability are also important. These restorations are also a more expensive option, but will last a long time. These restorations typically last 10+ years.
Our dentists will use instrumentation and/or x-rays to assess your teeth during your examination, or emergency appointment. The fillings will be assessed for defects or new decay and our dentist will then discuss the issue, the recommended treatment and materials for you. We welcome discussion about material choice and assessment of your teeth for the best treatment outcomes.
If you think you might need a tooth filling, please call Adelaide City Dental Care on (08) 8212 3880.