If you have managed to avoid getting a cavity, that is a great accomplishment! Almost 80 percent of people in the U.S. develop at least one by age 17. For that reason, it is a good thing we have dental fillings.
Tooth fillings repair cavities caused by decay and prevent the spread of infection. Left untreated, decay can travel to the inner pulp. In these cases, root canal therapy is needed to stop the infection and save the tooth.
There are two main types of filling materials: silver amalgam fillings and tooth-colored fillings. Each offers unique advantages.
Traditional Silver Amalgam: Metal dental fillings have been used for over a century. This type of alloy material is made up of silver, copper, tin, and mercury. Amalgam fillings are inexpensive, strong, safe and durable. However, they are also highly noticeable. And require a significant amount of tooth preparation.
White Composite: This is a popular cosmetic dentistry option for patients who want a more discreet restoration. Composite fillings are a tooth-colored mixture of glass and plastic that bonds to the tooth surface. More expensive than amalgam, composites are a newer filling material that is almost as durable as silver fillings. Less tooth preparation is needed to place a composite filling.
Porcelain: Advanced dental ceramics are natural-looking, strong and unlike composites, stain resistant. Porcelain dental fillings are often more costly, because they require more specialized technology and the use of a dental lab. This filling material is used more for aesthetic purposes. The high glass content makes porcelain fillings brittle.
After getting a filling place, it is normal to experience some sensitivity to hot and cold in the first couple of weeks. If discomfort persists, or if you feel pain when biting, you may need to have an adjustment made to the filling. Brush and floss as you normally would and visit Kay's dental clinic every six months. Keep in mind, tooth decay is very preventable!