Dental fillings create a durable barrier that protects the tooth from further decay. This becomes important in protecting overall dental health because it prevents bacteria from making its way into the tooth pulp – the part of the tooth roots have nerves and receive blood supply. Getting and properly maintaining dental fillings can prevent the need for more painful, more serious and more expensive procedures such as root canals down the road. Dr. Stephen Hill recommends getting fillings checked routinely in exams at least once a year.
Each type of filling has its own virtues and price. Regardless of filling type, dental fillings are always vulnerable to surrounding bacteria and decay, as well as potential fractures, so it is important to have them checked regularly. The average lifetime of a filling is approximately six years before it needs to be replaced, but fillings can also fall out if there is too much decay of the surrounding tooth structure.
The oldest type of filling is the amalgam filling, made of a mixture of silver, copper, tin and mercury. Amalgam fillings are the least expensive and most durable of the filling types that have been studied and recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA). However, there are concerns about the volatility of mercury and its potential to poison when present in large enough amounts.
More recently, composite resin fillings have become the dental filling of choice, because unlike amalgam fillings that are noticeable by their contrast to the natural color of teeth, the composite resin can be formulated to match the tooth color. Composite resin fillings are formulated from finely ground glass particles mixed with acrylic resin. They are capable of withstanding fracture and are recommended for small to midsized restorations.
Within the last few years, a new type of filling has come onto the market called the glass ionomer filling. They are made of finely ground glass powder that contains fluoride mixed with an organic acid that forms a solid restoration that has the capability of releasing fluoride.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Hill to determine the best option for you, contact our office at (469) 656-4516.