When it comes to addressing dental cavities or decay, dental fillings play a crucial role in restoring the integrity of your teeth. Traditionally, amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings because of their colour, were the most common choice for dentists, but in more recent years, there has been a move towards other alternatives, which are commonly available in Toronto.
Concerns With Amalgam Fillings
Concerns about the potential health risks associated with amalgam because of the mercury content, as well as the dark appearance of silver amalgam fillings, have led to other filling materials being used more frequently. As a result, most dentists and patients prefer alternatives to amalgam fillings, including tooth coloured fillings.
Material Choices for the Dental Filling Procedure
In Toronto and throughout Canada, there is a growing demand for mercury-free dentistry and amalgam-free dental filling options. Amalgam is rarely used now, but there are a variety of other options that offer several advantages.
Composite Resin Fillings
Composite resin fillings are one of the most popular alternatives to dental amalgam in Toronto and worldwide. These fillings are made of a composite resin material that is mercury free, easily applied, and tooth coloured. The material can be applied in layers and moulded, then hardened with a curing light.
Composite resin fillings can be matched to your natural tooth colour, so these restorations are invisible. A key advantage of these fillings is that they can often be repaired, if necessary, so a complete filling replacement is not necessary.
This biocompatible white filling material is very versatile, and can be used easily on all teeth. It is flexible enough to fill small to large cavities and restore minor chips and cracks. Composite resin requires less tooth preparation compared to amalgam fillings, so preserves more of the natural tooth structure. It bonds well with tooth surfaces, for good support and stability. They are also a very affordable option.
Porcelain fillings are typically used for larger restorations, such as inlays and onlays. They are another excellent choice for people looking for alternatives to amalgam in Toronto.
Porcelain closely mimics the appearance of natural teeth, with a translucent quality that matches that of tooth enamel and the ability to colour match. This provides a nearly invisible result. Porcelain is very strong and durable, chip-resistant, and stain-resistant. Porcelain is also biocompatible.
More tooth preparation may be required to allow a porcelain filling to fit securely. A second visit is generally required, as the porcelain filling needs to be sent away to be custom made. They are also more expensive than other options.
Glass Ionomer Fillings
Glass ionomer fillings are made from a mixture of glass and acrylic, and contain fluoride that can gradually be released. Because of the release of fluoride, glass ionomer fillings can help prevent further tooth decay. They require minimal tooth preparation, preserving more of the natural tooth structure, and bond well with the tooth, providing a secure and long-lasting restoration.
Although they are available in tooth-coloured versions for an aesthetic appearance, they are not as natural looking as other tooth-coloured fillings. They are also softer and less durable. Because of this and their fluoride-releasing properties, they may be chosen for cavities on children's baby teeth, where they are not expected to be needed for many years, and the fluoride can help prevent future issues.
Ceramic fillings are another biocompatible and aesthetic option, offering the look of natural teeth and discreet restorations.
Although these fillings are durable, they are more prone to chipping.
Recent advancements in dental equipment have allowed on-site manufacturing of custom ceramic fillings, so some dental offices may be able to offer same-day placement of these fillings which traditionally had to be made in a separate lab and sent to the dentist. With a 3D intraoral scanner and in-office milling machines, a dentist can design, create, and place ceramic fillings in a single dental visit.
Gold fillings are rarely used, as they can be expensive and are not tooth coloured for a more aesthetic restoration. However, they are mercury free, resistant to corrosion and wear, and last a long time. They may be chosen for those with allergies or sensitivities to other dental materials.
Don't Delay Treatment
Regardless of the type of dental filling you and your dentist choose for you, prompt treatment for tooth decay is critical. If you have tooth pain or other symptoms of a cavity, or have been advised by your dentist that you have one, you should have it treated as soon as possible, even if it isn't bothering you.
Delaying treatment allows the tooth decay to progress and spread deeper into the tooth, potentially leading to more extensive damage and complications like infection or abscesses. On the other hand, early intervention means less damage and less complex treatment required. This will save you money spent on costlier treatments, and save you from having to undergo more invasive procedures.
Maintaining oral health is important, and treating decay early is a critical component of that. If you suspect you may have a cavity, Toronto Smile Centre offers convenient white fillings in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.