According to the Oral Health Foundation, around 80 of British adults have at least one filling. On average, every adult has around seven fillings. Fillings are generally used to treat cavities and can help to maintain the tooth and protect it from damage. The decaying tooth material is removed and then replaced with a filling that helps to restore the tooth structure, seal off any gaps and prevent bacteria from damaging your tooth and pulp.
Getting your fillings checked is an important part of your dental check-up. Faulty fillings can lead to the root of your tooth being exposed to bacteria which can be very painful and, if not treated, may lead to the loss of your tooth. Fillings can last a very long time, but people sometimes opt to replace them.
When the time comes to replace your fillings, you may want to think about changing them to white fillings. Tooth-coloured (also called ‘composite’) fillings are very popular for cosmetic reasons as they are less visible than the darker amalgam fillings. However, there are some scenarios where your dentist might advise against replacing your amalgam fillings with composite or white fillings.
The main reason that people choose white fillings is that they look more natural and are less visible than amalgam fillings. For this reason, white fillings will often be used for the teeth that are visible and closer to the front of the mouth.
People often choose to replace their amalgam fillings with white fillings if they are concerned about the mercury content in their fillings. Amalgam fillings are made up of a combination of silver, mercury, tin and copper. Although there is no cause for concern about the mercury content in amalgam fillings, some people prefer to avoid them.
Like amalgam fillings, direct composite fillings can be completed in one visit to the dentist. Your dentist will remove the damaged tooth material, clean the area and then apply a soft composite material to your tooth. This will then be hardened using a special blue light. Composite fillings are very strong if they are placed by an experienced dentist and created using the best quality materials.
Sometimes if a tooth has either had a very large filling or has lots of decay, or if there are moisture control issues, it may not be suitable for a white filling. In this situation, your dentist may recommend an amalgam restoration, an inlay or onlay, or a crown (sometimes referred to as a ‘cap’ instead). Inlays, onlays and crown restorations are prepared in surgery by your dentist. An impression is taken of the prepared tooth and the opposing teeth, and these impressions are sent off and made at a laboratory to fit your tooth perfectly.
If you’d like to discuss the possibility of replacing your amalgam fillings with white fillings, book an appointment with your dentist or dental hygienist today!
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