In contemporary dentistry, beauty, health, and durability go hand in hand. Quality materials and precise work of the dentist are the keys to making time-resistant and aesthetic fillings. They restore the lost anatomy, function, and shape of the damaged teeth and improve oral health.
What is a dental filling?
These are various materials created and used to restore the anatomy and function of the teeth 1 when their structure is disturbed, as a result of a dental cavity, severe tooth decay or fractures. The aim of the filling is to replace the lost tissues with a suitable material that seals the holes and prevent further decay as well as chipping and cracking of the tooth.
Most often filling procedures are used to treat dental cavities. In addition, they can also be used to repair worn out teeth caused by bruxism or to restore broken parts of teeth.
What types of dental fillings are there?
According to their duration of stay in the mouth, the fillings in teeth can be temporary and permanent. Permanent are the ones that permanently restore the tooth. Temporary fillings are used when more than one visit is required. For example, if root canal treatment needs to be done, additional office visits are usually required, between which the tooth is sealed with a temporary filling.
Types of filling materials
When it comes to materials, there are many different types of fillings and they all have their pros and cons. Possible dental filling materials include gold or silver fillings (amalgam), tooth-coloured composite material, porcelain fillings, and a special type of glass. The best and safest material for you will be determined by the price, the possibilities for coverage by your insurance, and your aesthetic preferences. The most used types are amalgam and composite resin material.
Amalgam fillings have been used in dentistry for over a century. They are strong which makes them suitable for placing in the back of the mouth. However, they might be not a good solution for the front teeth. Because they are made of several metal elements (combination of mercury, silver, copper and tin), amalgam fillings 2 can be seen when you laugh or smile. However, silver-coloured fillings are among the cheapest material.
This type of filling contains a combination of glass or quartz material and can be made to blend with the colour of the tooth. Composite or tooth-coloured fillings are also relatively durable and are ideal for small or medium-sized tooth restoration in that part of the oral cavity that is used for moderate chewing. This material is also used as a dental gap filling.
The ceramic fillings most often consist of porcelain. It is a long-lasting material and may cost as much as gold.
Gold and silver types of fillings
The cost of gold fillings can be 10 times higher than the silver teeth prices. Silver and gold fillings can last over 10 years before they need to be renewed.
Glass ionomer fillings
This mixture of acrylic and glass is used to create fillings from which fluoride is released to protect teeth. However, the voice ionomer seal 3 lasts less than the others and may need to be renewed only after four-five years.
Cost of tooth fillings in Singapore?
Composite filling teeth cost between $100 - $300 while silver amalgam filling might be around $50 - $150. The teeth filling price in Singapore can vary according to the type of the material, the complexity of the treatment, the dentist you choose, and so on.
Cavity fillings: What to expect during the procedure?
You will probably spend about an hour at the dentist's office. This chair time will be enough for him/her to examine your teeth, explain the treatment process, and do the dental work. Before filling, the dentist will numb your teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues to prevent and reduce the feeling of discomfort and sensitivity during your dental treatment. Then he/she will drill the destroyed part of the tooth structure and restore it with a filling.
When you're done, you'll probably feel your mouth tingle for a few more hours. The tooth decay filling does not involve any serious risks. It is normal if you have a little bit of swelling and discomfort after dental filling. In case you have long-lasting pain or other complications contact your dentist.
How to know if you need a tooth filling?
Here are some symptoms of decayed tooth:
- "Toothache -type" pain or sharp pain;
- Teeth sensitivity - feeling pain when eating cold food or drinks as well as sugary foods;
- Bad breath;
- Noticeable hole on the tooth;
- Darker stain on the tooth.
How long does a dental filling last?
Filings usually last between five and twenty years before they need to be replaced. However, over time, they can wear out because of the pressure of chewing. If you clench or grind your teeth, you may need new fillings sooner.
If you notice signs of wear on the top layer of the filling, such as cracks or frayed areas, or you have some pain signals, visit your dentist for a replacement as soon as possible. Some of the cracked dental filling symptoms are sudden pain, sensitivity and feeling hole over your tooth. Left untreated, the cracked filling may lead to infection and more expensive treatments. If additional tooth decay forms around the filling, your dentist may perform root canal treatment and then repair the tooth structure with a dental crown or Inlays instead of a second filling.
How to take care of dental fillings?
It is important to brush and floss well your teeth with fillings as well as to see your dental hygienist regularly. The filling basically replaces your tooth that was broken off or decayed. So there is going to be a seam edge and you want to keep that edge very clean. You will lose a filling quicker if you do not have good oral hygiene practice.
Amalgam or composite filling: pros and cons
Composite resin filling is undoubtedly the most widely used material for decay today. IT has many advantages and some of them include:
- Aesthetics and tooth-coloured, composite resin fillings. Thanks to the wide range of colours and the combination of them, a perfect match between the natural tooth shade and that of the filling can be achieved, which is extremely important especially when we talk about fillings of front teeth
- Strong and durable. They attach to the teeth with the help of a chemical bond, which is much stronger than the mechanical one and makes them usable in many more dental areas and in many more dental problems - not only in tooth decay but also for fractures, cracks, etc.
However, most commonly used, composite materials have some drawbacks such as:
- Higher cost of treatment than that of amalgams
- They may take longer to make and model.
Amalgam fillings were the most used fillings in the past. Their pros are:
- Their exceptional strength and resistance to chewing pressure, which is why they often stay in the mouth for 15-20 years or more.
- Extremely low prices. This is the cheapest, but also the worst looking material. It is most often composed of silver, tin, zinc, and other mixed materials. This is the filling that is used by fewer and fewer dentists.
The disadvantages include:
- They have poor aesthetics. The silver shade sends the amalgam in the last place when chosen by the patient and the dentist, especially if it is placed on the front teeth. The mercury content is harmless after the seal has hardened, but can affect more sensitive people or pregnant women when removing such fillings. In addition, due to trace amounts of mercury in the amalgam, some patients may be allergic to it.
- Amalgam restorations expand slightly over time and create plaque retention sites, which can lead to bad breath and tooth decay.
Dental Onlay vs. filling
When it comes to dental restorations you have different options - fillings, indirect fillings such as Onlays 4, inlays as well as dental crowns, partial crowns, bridges, and so on. Fillings, Onlays and Inlays have a similar purpose - repair cracked or fractured teeth that are not damaged enough for crowns or implants. But let's see their differences.
Amalgam and composite resin are some of the most frequently used tooth fillings materials. They can be done in a single visit. They are strong and do the job. They are the least expensive materials initially but as the years go by the filling will wear out and have to be replaced. Fillings can only be replaced so many times before you've lost so much tooth structure that you'd have to crown the tooth.
Dental Onlays are a type of indirect filling that has a similar size and shape to silver fillings but the process of making them is more like making a crown. That's because Onlays are custom-crafted in a dental laboratory to precisely fit your tooth which is why the process might be longer. However, today most dentists use CEREC system that allows same-day services. Onlays are more expensive in the short run than traditional fillings. On the other hand, this indirect restoration may be less expensive in the long run because Onlays and Inlays are more durable, they won't have to be replaced as often and they may reduce the need for a crown in the future.
Frequently asked questions
Can you eat after a dental filling?
It is better to avoid food after dental filling at least for the first few hours. From there on you can eat pretty much what you want to.
Are dental fillings painful?
Typically there is no pain during the procedure. After fillings, your tooth might be a tiny bit sensitive to some hots and colds and most of the pain comes from the injection site where the tooth has been numbed. If you experience some pain or tooth sensitivity you can manage them with pain relievers.
How long do temporary fillings last?
Though no specific time is mentioned, this type of filling should last between 6 to 8 weeks. Over time, it will begin to fall out on its own.
Are amalgam-type fillings safe during pregnancy?
Amalgam fillings are better to be avoided during pregnancy as well as by a person who has increased levels of mercury as they tend to be more sensitive to mercury exposure.
How do I know if I need a root canal treatment or filling?
If you have a smaller cavity in your tooth or minor decay that has not reached the pulp, a filling might be recommended. When a tooth has become severely decayed and infected and also reached the root canal, you probably need a root canal treatment. This inflammation is usually accompanied by severe tooth pain.
Does dental insurance cover the cost of the fillings?
In general, it depends on your insurance plan and company. Most companies provide insurance coverage for dental fillings. However, make sure you check with them before getting such dental treatment.
Choose your dentist carefully. Research the reviews for him/her. Never look for the cheapest clinic. Sometimes, with the lowest cost, you receive poor quality service. Trust a specialist who offers you several options and has the patience to explain the advantages and disadvantages of each. A good dentist is not just a talented specialist. He/she is also a good advisor who will help you make the right decision for you.