If you have a cavity, your dentist may recommend a filling. Fillings are made out of a variety of materials that are meant to help preserve your teeth. Thanks to fillings, your dentist does not need to remove entire teeth. You are left with fully functioning teeth and a lovely smile.
In order for fillings to be a good fit for your mouth, the materials must withstand the pressure of biting. Different materials are meant to do exactly this. Read on to learn the difference between metal and nonmetal fillings.
Nonmetal Fillings - The Good
White composite resin fillings are bonded to your teeth so that they match the color of surrounding dental work. This means that the fillings can be used near the front of the mouth without any obvious changes to your smile. Even better, the dentist does not have to drill as large of a hole in order to place resin.
Additionally, composite resin does not allow bacteria to seep in because of the bonding. When applied correctly, these fillings are highly effective in preventing infection from seeping in.
Thanks to technology, nonmetal fillings are much more durable today than they were in the past. This means that dentists use them much more often.
Nonmetal Fillings - The Bad
Nonmetal fillings may not last as long as metal fillings. They have a life span of at least five years, but they often last longer with proper maintenance and dental care. As dental processes improve over time, so does the long-lasting nature of fillings.
In some cases, nonmetal fillings shrink after they are placed. Without proper bonding, this does allow bacteria to enter the teeth, leading to damage and additional dental work.
Metal Fillings - The Good
Metal amalgram fillings are hardy, and for a long while they were the most common choice for fillings because they can last at least 10 years. They are commonly used to fill cavities toward the back of the mouth.
Over time, amalgram fillings have proven to be safe. While people have been concerned about mercury in older fillings, the mercury is not considered dangerous when it is combined with other ingredients to create the filling. The Food and Drug Administration has not recommended that these older fillings be removed.
Finally, metal fillings have been a popular option in the past because they are affordable. The material has been easy to acquire for decades. In fact, metal fillings are still often the first choice for those who are financially conscious.
Metal Fillings - The Bad
Unfortunately, metal fillings can change size with temperature. Your teeth do not do this, leading to tooth damage. In addition, bacteria can enter the grooves left behind.
These fillings will stand out if they are placed in an area that is commonly seen in your mouth. This is especially true over time as the fillings face discoloration. If you are looking for a discreet fix for your smile, metal is not the best option.
Lastly, some people are actually allergic to mercury that is found in these fillings. This generally does not pose a serious problem for most people with cavities.
Choosing Between Nonmetal and Metal Fillings
Generally speaking, nonmetal fillings are preferred. They are not as cheap, but they do provide a clean and precise look that nobody else will be able to notice.
Your dentist understands your dental goals. Like you, your dentist wants your smile to be excellent in addition to functional.
Dr. Jeffrey S. Mika, D.D.S. can provide you with more information about the right fillings for your smile. Make an appointment today to learn more about your options.