If you have cavities, you want a filling that will help you smile look attractive and be healthy. Traditional metal amalgam fillings can look unattractive. They start silver and often turn black. They can also damage your teeth, and may be unhealthy. White fillings, on the other hand, can correct tooth decay with an attractive filling that looks similar to your natural teeth, protects your teeth, and can even restore strength lost to decay.
Benefits of White Fillings
White fillings offer a better approach to treating cavities than metal amalgam in many ways. They use more modern technology to achieve:
- More attractive results
- Less visible treatment
- A tight bond with teeth
- Restorations that don’t oxidize and turn black
- Better resistance to heat and cold
- Less likelihood of cracked teeth
With traditional metal amalgam fillings, it’s obvious to everyone that you’ve had cavities. In fact when the amalgam turns black, people might think you still have cavities. The discoloration from metal fillings can be visible through your teeth, so that sometimes your tooth may look grey or dark because of fillings on the backside of the teeth.
Heat and cold also affect metal fillings differently. In response to heat, such as from a hot beverage, the amalgam fillings will swell faster than the tooth surrounding it. This can lead to small cracks developing in the teeth. These cracks are tiny, but they do weaken the tooth and can lead to secondary cavities or even cracked teeth.
In response to cold, the metal amalgam, which isn’t bonded to the teeth, shrinks faster than the tooth, creating a space around the filling that liquid and bacteria can penetrate into. Then when the filling and tooth match again, the liquid is squeezed out under pressure, which can damage the tooth further.
Some people are also concerned by the presence of mercury in metal amalgam fillings. Mercury is toxic and makes up about half of the metal fillings by weight. It also doesn’t stay in the fillings, but evaporates and spreads through the body, accumulating in many different tissues. The American Dental Association and the Food and Drug Administration assert that metal amalgam fillings are safe, but many others are not as sure.
White Fillings Options
You can choose from two different kinds of white fillings. The most common is the resin composite filling, which is made up of a plastic material with small inclusions of ceramic material for strength. It begins as a soft putty that can be put into a prepared tooth, but is hardened with a curing light.
White fillings can also be made of advanced ceramic materials similar to that used in all-porcelain dental crowns. These give superior performance in terms of both appearance and durability. They are called inlays when they fit into the bowl of the tooth crown and onlays when they extend up to and over the bowl of the tooth.