When a tooth needs to be filled, there is no ideal filling material that adequately replaces the original tooth substance. The most common filling in us is dental amalgam which is a grey metallic filling. It is easy to use and last well. It has been used successfully for over 100 years.
Some patients and dentist have concerns with amalgam because of it’s mercury content although the general scientific consensus is that it is safe to use.
Tooth coloured fillings have been used for over 50 years for front teeth where amalgam fillings look unsightly, and in the past 30 years, there have been significant developments in tooth coloured fillings for back teeth. Tooth coloured filling materials are essentially plastic strengthened with ceramics. They offer an alternative to amalgam in many situations.
Tooth coloured fillings match the colour of the teeth and are better cosmetically. They are the treatment of choice for front teeth. They are bonded to the teeth with adhesives, and modern-day composites are very durable. They may also be the treatment of choice small fillings in back teeth because they often require less tooth substance to be removed in their preparation. They take more time to do, and the dentist needs to ensure that they are not contaminated with moisture when placing them. Tooth coloured fillings are likely to cost more than the equivalent amalgam filling.
There are many different materials available, and the dentist will advise you as to which is most suitable in your case.
Tooth coloured fillings are plastic and are likely to wear more quickly. They are not suitable or strong enough for some situations, particularly where there is already a large filling in the tooth. They may, therefore, need to be replaced more frequently.
As a plastic material, they may discolour, although they can be polished or resurfaced relatively easily in most cases. Some patients experience more sensitivity after composite fillings.
There may be a more permanent solution such as a crown (cap) or different material, porcelain or gold. If a tooth does not settle down after being filled, a root treatment may be necessary.
Paediatric dentistry or children dentistry encompasses a preventative, conservative, and noninvasive type of dentistry in children, in a view to a more comprehensive treatment planning in their future when indicated.