From time to time patients may need a dental filling to restore a decayed or fractured tooth. White fillings have become increasingly popular over the years.
Tooth decay is caused by acid-producing bacteria that are found in plaque. These acids occur after eating and drinking and can break down the enamel and dentine of the teeth.
In order to prevent tooth decay, it is advised to floss once a day, brush twice daily, and limit dietary sugar intake. Patients who are at high risk of developing tooth decay should also consider using a fluoride mouthwash.
Early tooth decay can be treated by following the above oral hygiene routine and attending 6-month check-ups with your dentist. Moderate tooth decay will usually need a filling. Very advanced tooth decay will most likely need a root canal treatment.
A white composite filling is the most commonly used type of filling these days. They look very natural and bond to the remaining tooth tissue very well.
Porcelain or composite Inlays or Onlays are more appropriate for larger cavities and take two visits to complete, in comparison to white filling taking one visit.
In the immediate period after a filling is carried out, that side of the mouth may be very numb. It is advisable not to use the tongue and lip on that side of the mouth too much until the numbness has stopped.
Daily Flossing and brushing of the tooth and filling are essential to prevent bacterial accumulation around the filling margins which can lead to bacterial leakage.
Sometimes sensitivity can occur. This usually settles down shortly afterward. White fillings can also stain, debond, chip, or fracture over time.
White fillings bond to the tooth tissue and silver fillings do not. White fillings look much more natural. However metallic silver fillings are stronger.
Silver amalgam fillings contain mercury and mercury is a toxic substance. The World Health Organization has recommended that human exposure to mercury should be reduced. Although the exact health risks of silver fillings remain unproven, some patients prefer not to have any silver fillings at all. White fillings do not contain any mercury.
White fillings are more technically demanding than silver fillings, they require more surgery time, and usually cost more.
With good aftercare and maintenance, white fillings should last for many years. Studies show that the average lifespan of fillings is around 5 years and Inlay or Onlay last on average from 5-10 years.