Dental fillings are a common type of dental restoration, used to fill in empty spaces after cavities have been removed. Traditionally, fillings are made of a metal amalgam, but in the last few years tooth-colored or white fillings have become more popular. They provide several advantages over amalgam but also some disadvantages. One disadvantages is that they do not last as long as metal fillings.
Characteristics of White Fillings
White fillings are made of a composite substance that is molded into the hole in the tooth, allowed to harden, and then carefully shaped to match the contours of the original tooth. White fillings can also be made of porcelain. Porcelain fillings must be created from a mold of your tooth and cemented into position after they have been fabricated. [pullquote]Traditionally, fillings are made of a metal amalgam, but in the last few years tooth-colored or white fillings have become more popular.[/pullquote]
White dental fillings are not really white—they’re intended to approximate the color of your teeth, which is usually a slightly off-white shade. Porcelain fillings can be color-matched for an even more natural look. With white fillings, your restorations are practically invisible. White fillings are also less likely to cause discomfort when they come into contact with cold foods or beverages, since they don’t conduct the cold the way metal fillings do. They also do not contain mercury, which can be concerning to some.
Longevity of White Fillings
White fillings don’t usually last quite as long as metal fillings. Their longevity depends a great deal on how well you take care of them. White fillings generally last an average of eight years, but they can last longer. Amalgam fillings can last a decade or more. Some factors can reduce the life of your fillings, including:
- Clenching and grinding
- Irregular dental care
- Damage due to trauma
It is important to continue with regular dental visits after you’ve had restorations to ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy and additional decay does not develop. With proper care, you can prevent the development of more cavities and ensure your white fillings last as long as possible.
Contact the office of Dr. Nicholas Kemp if you have additional questions about fillings or any other dental procedure.