Advances in Bonding Technology
For many decades, silver fillings have been the primary option for cracked and chipped teeth. The main problem with silver fillings is that they easily crack. Fortunately, dental technology is advancing rapidly. One area of rapid development is bonding technology. The research and testing has produced materials and fillings that are far superior to silver and amalgam fillings. The new technology has created fillings which form a superior bond with the patient’s natural teeth. This has also made it much easier for dentists to repair fillings that have cracked.
Weaknesses in Silver Fillings
Researchers have discovered several weaknesses in silver fillings:
- Silver fillings will almost inevitably crack. Because it is a metal material, it is constantly expanding and contracting based on temperature changes.
- Silver fillings have a tendency to wear down around the edges. Eventually, they wear down until they break.
- Once a silver filling breaks, it exposes the tooth to bacteria and makes them susceptible to cavities again.
- Silver fillings are made partly of mercury. If a silver filling cracks or breaks, the mercury will likely leak. This can lead to staining of the teeth and gums that are in the vicinity of the filling.
Advantages in Composite Fillings
- Composite fillings are much stronger.
- Composite fillings are more aesthetically appealing than silver fillings.
- Dentists can repair damage from old silver fillings by repairing them with the better composite fillings.
- Dentists can reduce the likelihood of future problems from silver fillings by preventively replacing them with composite fillings.
When are Fillings Used?
Fillings are most often used when a tooth has been damaged by cavities or a root canal. Fillings are used to seal teeth that have been treated for these issues. Fillings can also fix teeth that have been cracked, broken, or worn down.
What Options Are There for Fillings?
Amalgam fillings are still used in many situations, but some patients prefer other options in some situations for their visual appeal.
- Composite fillings: Composite fillings are made of resins and fine particles that have been created to imitate the color of the patient’s natural teeth.
- Glass Ionomer Cement: This is a restorative material. It is tooth colored, but it is made of a combination of glass and acrylic resins. Since it is more fragile, it is typically used to fill in areas where biting pressure is not a concern.
- Porcelain: Porcelain fillings are natural-looking, durable, and stain resistant. They are also used for indirect restorations like inlays, overlays, veneers, and crowns.