Are All Tooth Fillings the Same?

By Dr Anthony Hua

We’ve all had a filling at some point in our life but some of us may have had a traumatic experience as a child or a fear of the dentist which has resulted in less than regular dental care appointments. Ironically, leaving too much time between regular dental appointments can ultimately result in more tooth decay which may require more invasive procedures such as a root canal treatment or tooth extraction. Often people have a fear of fillings but knowing more about the different kinds of fillings and the procedure itself can help put you at ease.

Why exactly would I need a filling?

Teeth can become decayed and damaged due to an acidic diet including high amounts of sugar or soft drink, bacteria from not cleaning your teeth properly or trauma from an accident. These factors can weaken the enamel of your teeth, leading to a cavity or crack. When decay occurs in one of your teeth, that tooth becomes compromised, if a dentist does not treat the decay, it will continue to cause more damage to the structure of the tooth. One treatment to stop the decay from spreading and repair the damaged tooth is with a dental filling, which is a type of restorative dentistry.

Types of Dental Fillings:

Composite Resin

  • These fillings are often the treatment of choice, as composite resin blends into a patient’s teeth, adheres to tooth structure better and is built directly onto the tooth
  • Matched to the colour of your teeth, and initially soft allowing it to be bonded and moulded into your cavity, before being hardened with a UV light
  • Generally, more conservative as less of the tooth needs to be removed to prepare for the filling
  • With some other types of fillings, such as amalgams, more tooth structure is drilled away to allow for adequate material retention

Dental Amalgams (Silver Fillings)

  • Dental amalgams are silver-coloured fillings that are made up of mercury and silver-based alloys
  • Introduced to the western hemisphere in the 19th century and for the past 150 years it has continued to be widely used
  • Cost-effective and durable, however in recent times, public awareness of the implications and dangers of using mercury have increased, leading to a rise in patients and dentists opting for alternative filling materials
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) Consensus Statement on Dental Amalgam, published over 20 years ago, notes that “dental amalgam restorations are considered to be safe and effective”, stating: “The small amount of mercury released from amalgam restorations, especially during placement and removal, has not been shown to cause any other adverse health effects.”
  • Use of amalgam fillings have been banned and restricted in several countries, however it is still used in dental clinics across Australia
  • Burleigh Dental Studio is a mercury-free practice, so you will not find any dental amalgam within our clinic

Ceramic Inlays or Onlays (Porcelain Fillings)

  • Ceramic inlays or onlays help reinforce the structure of the tooth
  • Designed to fit perfectly into the tooth and is bonded in place, giving your tooth the support it may have been lacking
  • Often a more time-consuming option, as it requires two dental visits like a dental crown
  • While composite resin fillings can be done directly onto a tooth, ceramic inlays and onlays require preparation and an impression to be made of the cavity during your first visit and a customised restoration created by our lab ceramist to then perfectly fit your cavity for bonding during the second visit

After Care for Your Tooth Filling

Just after your procedure, we normally advise you not to eat, chew or drink until the anaesthetic (if administered) has worn off. This is to help avoid accidents when your mouth is numb such as chomping down on your cheek, lip or tongue, or burning your mouth on a hot drink.

When it comes to aftercare, the most important tip is to keep up with your regular oral hygiene routine of brushing twice daily, flossing and having regular six-monthly preventative care appointments with our team to help minimise the likelihood that you will need another filling in the near future.

If you have been putting off that trip to the dentist, do not delay any longer – reach out to us at Burleigh Dental Studio for friendly, compassionate, and expert dental care on (07) 5576 6208.

dr anthony huaArticle by Dr Anthony Hua – Principal Dentist

Dr Anthony Hua is the Founder & Principal Dentist at Burleigh Dental Studio. His passion, expertise and dedication to the field of dentistry have been recognised by his achievement of Fellowship status with the Australian Society of Implant Dentistry (ASID) and the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI).

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