What Material Options Exist for Dental Fillings? Pros and Cons

What Material Options Exist for Dental Fillings? Pros and Cons

March 1, 2024

If you have been advised to get a filling, you might be curious about the optimal material choice. Today’s Dental Fillings in Knoxville, IA, come in several types besides traditional metal. Learn about the pros and cons of each to make an informed decision with your dentist near me.

What are the traditional metal dental filling options?

For decades, metal amalgam fillings were the standard cavity treatment. Amalgams contain liquid mercury, silver, tin, copper, and other metals bound together into a strong, stable alloy. The metallic mix is molded into the prepared tooth cavity, which hardens.

Pros:

  • Very durable and long-lasting – can survive decades of chewing with proper care
  • Wears well under chewing pressure without cracking
  • Tolerates temperature changes from hot and cold foods/drinks

Cons:

  • The noticeable dark gray color doesn’t match natural tooth shades
  • Requires removing healthy enamel to allow bonding to tooth
  • No adhesive property – sealed in place only by shape
  • Contains mercury, raising health concerns for some patients

What are composite resin fillings, and are they tooth-colored?

Composite resin fillings contain fine glass or ceramic particles mixed with acrylic resin. They are molded into the cavity and then hardened using a special blue light—the resin material bonds directly to the etched tooth surface.

Pros:

  • Tooth-colored – match the natural shade of your teeth seamlessly
  • Bonds adhesively for extra retention and fracture resistance
  • Requires less healthy enamel removal than metal fillings
  • Durable enough for both front and back teeth

Cons:

  • It is more technique-sensitive for dentists to place perfectly
  • Costs more than amalgam fillings on average
  • Can stain over time, requiring replacement
  • Generally less durable than metal, may need more frequent replacement

What are ceramic dental fillings made of?

Ceramic fillings are made from porcelain. They come pre-fabricated in a variety of tooth shades and sizes. The dentist selects one to match the color of your actual tooth closely. After etching the enamel, the ceramic piece is bonded into the preparation site.

Pros:

  • Very natural tooth-colored appearance
  • Does not stain or discolor over time
  • Bonds adhesively like composite resin fillings
  • Highly durable and fracture-resistant

Cons:

  • Brittleness can lead to cracking under pressure
  • Higher cost than composite resin fillings
  • Not ideal for large fillings
  • It makes the detection of new decay more difficult

How strong and durable are gold fillings?

Gold alloy fillings contain gold, copper, and other metals fused. The liquid mixture is injected into the prepared tooth and hardens upon cooling. Gold conducts hot and cold well, so sensitivity is rare.

Pros:

  • Extremely durable – lasts over 20 years with proper care
  • Does not corrode or weaken over time
  • Tolerates chewing pressure without fracturing
  • Lowers risk of further tooth decay near filling

Cons:

  • The noticeable gold color stands out against natural teeth
  • High cost compared to other filling options
  • Removed healthy tooth structure during placement
  • Gums may show black discoloration over time

Could glass ionomer fillings release fluoride?

Glass ionomer fillings are acrylic acids mixed with fine glass particles and fluoride. They bond to enamel through an adhesive reaction with the mineral apatite in teeth.

Pros:

  • Tooth-colored – matches the surrounding shade
  • Releases fluoride to protect vulnerable teeth
  • Bonds adhesively without much-removed enamel
  • Reasonable cost

Cons:

  • Prone to early wear and fracturing
  • Less durable than resin, metal, ceramic, or gold
  • Moisture during placement can undermine results
  • Mainly used for temporary, small fillings

Which filling material might be right for your tooth?

The best dental filling option depends on the tooth’s location, oral health, and cost considerations. Talk to your family or emergency dentist near me about which type makes sense for your situation. Composite and ceramic materials provide natural aesthetics, while metals and gold offer the most longevity.

With good oral hygiene and dental care, fillings should last many years before replacement. Get an evaluation at your next checkup to determine if any existing fillings require repair or replacement. Contact Knoxville Dental Associates to schedule your appointment today!