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What is a Tooth Filling?

Published on March 7, 2016

Post10When Dr. Ahmed tells patients they have a cavity and need to get a filling, they often ask “What is a tooth filling?” When you receive a filling, Dr. Ahmed removes the diseased or infected part of the tooth with a dental drill. He then uses filling material to cover the open spot.

Dental fillings help to preserve your tooth in addition to protecting it from additional decay. You could eventually lose a tooth if you neglect to have a simple cavity filled. A filling may also be necessary if one of your teeth has sustained a minor fracture.

Differences Between Composite and Metal Tooth Fillings

Alpha Dental is pleased to offer patients the option of composite fillings. This tooth-colored filling material closely matches the shade of your teeth, making it almost impossible for others to detect. Many patients prefer composite fillings for the improved aesthetics alone. It takes just one appointment for Dr. Ahmed to complete the process of applying a composite filling. These fillings resist staining better than other alternatives, but they can also be bulkier. To ensure that a ceramic filling remains firmly in your mouth, Dr. Ahmed may need to remove a small amount of tooth enamel before placing it.

Mercury makes up about half of the materials used in traditional metal fillings, which also go by the name silver amalgam fillings. Other materials include zinc, copper, tin, silver, and mercury. This was the treatment of choice for decades in the field of dentistry. However, many patients expressed concern about their appearance after receiving a metal filling as well as the remote possibility of mercury breaking free from the filling and entering their bloodstream. Since both types protect and preserve your tooth, you’re free to decide what works best for you.

Contact Us with Questions

Dr. Ahmed or a member of his staff would be happy to discuss the types of fillings in more detail when you discuss treatment planning with him. He will also let you know exactly what you can expect. If you suspect that you may have a cavity, we urge you not to delay in seeking treatment at Alpha Dental.


Types of Dental Fillings

Published on December 7, 2015

When your dentist at Alpha Dental discovers that you have tooth decay, removing it as soon as possible preserves the structure of the tooth. Once Dr. Ahmed has successfully removed the decay, the next step is to apply a dental filling. The materials to create the different types of dental fillings include:

  • Ceramic Fillings: Porcelain is the main component of these types of fillings. Although ceramic fillings are typically more expensive than all but gold fillings, they are durable and aesthetically pleasing. One downside is that they are more brittle and bulky so your dentist must reduce the tooth size to fit them comfortably. Fillings made from ceramic are highly resistant to staining.
  • Glass Ionomers: The ingredients in this filling type include glass and acrylic. Longevity averages five years, which makes them the least durable of all filling materials. Glass ionomers are most appropriate for children whose teeth are still growing and changing. One major advantage is that they release fluoride to protect the tooth against further decay.
  • Gold: Gold fillings are not common because they are much more expensive and difficult to place. One benefit is that gold is non-abrasive when used as a dental filling.
  • Silver Amalgam: This is the most popular type of dental filling. It contains a mixture of mercury, copper, zinc, tin, and silver. However, mercury accounts for at least half of the total mixture. Silver amalgam fillings are durable and can last for decades with proper care. They have fallen out of favor with patients in recent years due to not being aesthetically pleasing and concern about the mercury breaking free and causing an infection. This situation is extremely rare.

Composite Fillings Make a Superior Choice

Composite fillings, also called tooth colored, are extremely popular with patients for good reason. Of all filling types, they match the shade of your teeth most closely. This allows you to disguise the fact that you have cavities at all. The primary materials are resin and plastic. Since Dr. Ahmed use a curing light when placing a composite filling, it hardens almost immediately. You typically have to wait up to several hours for other types of fillings to harden in place. Composite fillings help you feel more confident about your smile as well.

Request a Consultation to Learn More about Dental Filling Options

With so many choices available, patients need more information about each option to make the right choice. We encourage you to ask questions of your dentist at Alpha Dental to ensure that you choose the right type of filling for your situation.

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