Dental Fillings

Fillings are the most common type of ‘restorative treatment’. A filling replaces the part of the tooth that has been lost because decay has caused a cavity in the tooth or because the tooth has broken. One option in restoring the tooth is to have a white filling, commonly known as  a ‘Composite Filling’.

Many people have fillings, the majority being grey metal called ‘Amalgam’. Fillings do not just have to be practical, they can also be aesthetically pleasing and thus many patients no longer have the desire for amalgam fillings because they are visible : with most white fillings, no-one would know it was there.

Composites are

  • Composite are referred to as white fillings. Composite is a tooth coloured material composed of glass particles suspended in a resin matrix. It is available in several shades to perfectly match your tooth.
  • Composites are bonded directly to your tooth which can help to support the remaining tooth structure.

Composites can be used for a variety of cosmetic dental procedures –

  • Repairing chipped or broken teeth
  • Closing gaps between your teeth (diastemas)
  • Reshaping your teeth

Composite is not ideal for all restorations on back teeth especially if you have a large cavity, as bonding does not have the strength over large areas or if you have a heavy bite, grind or clench your teeth.  The alternative tooth coloured restoration then would be an inlay or onlay. 

Silver Fillings - Amalgam 

Fillings are the most common type of 'restorative treatment'. A filling replaces the part of the tooth that has been lost either because decay has caused a cavity in the tooth or because the tooth has broken. One option in restoring the tooth is to have an Amalgam filling however with high quality tooth coloured fillings available, amalgam usage is now declining.

  • Amalgam - Sometimes referred to as a silver filling. This is an alloy which is made up using Mercury, Silver, Tin, Copper and Zinc.
  • It is extremely durable and able to withstand the grinding and chewing of the molar teeth over long periods of time.
  • They are less expensive than white fillings

The disadvantages

  • They look unattractive in the tooth due to its colour.
  • Some people are concerned about the mercury content, this has been shown by scientific studies to have no signifcance to health.
  • The colouring leaches into the dentinal tubules inside the tooth, leaving a permanent blue-gray halo that bleaching cannot remove.

The Procedure

  • A local anaesthetic will be given to numb the tooth and the surrounding tissue.
  • The tooth will be thoroughly cleaned. All decay, food debris or tartar will be removed. The tooth will then be shaped to accept the amalgam  by mechanical retention rather than being bonded or cemented.
  • Depending on the size of the filling, a band may be placed around the tooth which helps to hold the filling material in place whilst it is being packed into the tooth.
  • The Amalgam is packed into the tooth, then carved in to the correct shape.

Although amalgam hardens within a few minutes, it takes 24 hours for it to set fully.