If a single spot on one of your teeth is not cleaned daily, the remaining bacteria will transform themselves into a sticky film substance called plaque. The plaque will produce acids which eat away at the enamel of the tooth and will eventually cause cavities. When the cavity gets through the enamel, into the underlying tooth structure (the dentin), repair or restoration is necessary.
If there is sufficient tooth structure remaining after removal of all the caries, a filling is placed. There are three types of fillings commonly used.
- Composite fillings
- Amalgam fillings
- Gold fillings
Composite fillings are the newest type of filling in common usage. They are commonly known as white fillings. They are a porcelain/plastic hybrid that is bonded directly to the cavity preparation. Composite fillings were created as an alternative to traditional metal dental fillings. They are colored to look like natural teeth and are more esthetically pleasing than amalgam or gold fillings. They are also strong, durable, and make for a very natural looking smile.,
Amalgam (silver) fillings
Amalgam (silver) fillings have been used for decades and they remain one of the most commonly used filling materials. They are often referred to as metal fillings. Amalgam is a mixture of silver and other metals, such as copper, tin and zinc, grounded into powdered form. The silver powder is mixed with mercury and placed into the cavity preparation where it is shaped before hardening.
Gold fillings are widely viewed of restorations. From a bio-mechanical perspective, they are the ideal material as they will not tarnish or corrode and they wear at the same rate as tooth enamel. The placement of a gold filling requires two separate appointments with your dentist. At the first visit, the cavity is removed and the tooth is prepared. An impression is taken of the tooth preparation and a temporary restoration is placed. A custom made filling is made from the impression. At the second visit the temporary restoration is removed and the gold filling is placed. A cast gold filling is made in a dental lab and sent back to your dentist, who cements it in place in your mouth. You will need at least two visits to the dentist to get the job done.