A reliable and durable repair for decayed or damaged teeth
A dental filling is a very common procedure, and a very well-established way to repair damage to teeth. Silver amalgam fillings are the traditional choice, an affordable and long lasting option, but many patients today choose tooth coloured composite for a much more natural looking alternative.
Composite fillings offer an aesthetic repair, rebuilding teeth and restoring them back to full functionality. Dental composite is a type of resin made from a mixture of glass and plastic which, when hardened, looks just like dental enamel. It can be colour-matched to blend in perfectly with the natural tooth.
What are the advantages of composite fillings?
The main advantage of composite fillings is their aesthetic appeal. They blend in beautifully with your natural teeth and can be used to restore decayed, chipped and broken teeth in a more cosmetic way.
Modern materials now make composite fillings a durable choice. White fillings have always been considered less long lasting than silver amalgam fillings, but their properties are now comparable to amalgam and prove very successful. Also, less of the tooth needs to be removed before the filling can be placed.
What is involved in having a composite filling?
The area to be treated is numbed with a local anaesthetic and the decayed part of the tooth removed.
A gel is applied to the tooth, creating tiny holes to allow the composite material to bond effectively. The gel is then washed away and the tooth dried.
The colour matched shade of composite is then applied in layers and moulded to match the shape of the tooth.
The resin is hardened with a special bright light and it is then polished to look like a natural part of the tooth.
Amalgam fillings offer a highly effective way to restore the structure and functionality of a tooth, particularly the back teeth. This type of filling is the traditional choice, and has been tried and tested on millions of mouths. Although there is mercury in the amalgam, once it is combined with the other materials the chemical nature is changed, rendering it harmless.
What are the advantages of amalgam fillings?
- Extremely hard wearing
- Quicker to place than composite fillings
- More affordable than alternative restorative methods
What does having an amalgam filling involve?
The area to be treated is numbed with a local anaesthetic and the decayed part of the tooth removed with special dental tools.
A base or liner may be placed in the tooth to prevent sensitivity following the procedure.
The amalgam is mixed and then placed in the tooth. It is tightly compacted to ensure every part of the cavity is filled.
The amalgam is then shaped to resemble the tooth and, if necessary, is smoothed down so it feels comfortable.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best way to look after your filled tooth is to treat it just like your other teeth. It is important to brush and floss twice a day and visit your dentist for regular examination appointments so we can keep an eye on your teeth.
Although not generally as long lasting as amalgam, composite fillings are now strong and durable and can last up to ten years before needing to be replaced.
Yes, if you have amalgam fillings and would like to change these for composite, we are happy to replace them. More and more patients are now choosing composite fillings for their aesthetic qualities.
Yes, we can repair composite fillings if necessary, and small areas of damage can be easily restored. In some cases, we may remove the whole of the existing composite material and replace it with a new filling, but this will be advised by your dentist.
As the composite filling is hardened straight away when placed, you can eat and drink immediately following treatment if you choose. If local anaesthetic has been used, you may need to be careful when eating until the numb feeling fades.
The composite blends seamlessly into your natural teeth and is colour matched to make it indistinguishable when you smile.
Yes, amalgam fillings are safe. Research into the safety of dental amalgam has been carried out for over a century and, to date, no trustworthy controlled studies have found a connection between amalgam fillings and any medical problem.
We advise that pregnant women avoid amalgam fillings, so you may want to opt for a white composite filling instead. Please discuss any concerns you have about your dental treatment during pregnancy with us, as we are happy to talk to and reassure you.
No, amalgam is silver coloured so will not blend into your teeth like composite will. If aesthetics are important to you, we suggest choosing a composite filling over amalgam. They now have comparable strength qualities and can be coloured matched to the shade of your natural teeth.