- Modern dentistry has moved away from metal, amalgam fillings. Amalgam fillings expand over time causing cracks within the teeth. This means that larger portions of tooth can fracture off leaving the amalgam filling behind. The amalgam filling is not bonded to the tooth so does not impart any strength to the tooth.
- Some patients can have sensitivity or a reaction to the materials within amalgam fillings and this is a good reason to replace them.
- Most patients do not like the appearance of the amalgam fillings as they are grey or black and are not aesthetically pleasing.
- The use of amalgam fillings has reduced worldwide since the continued improvements of composite filling materials. There are also environmental concerns with use of amalgam fillings with regards to waste disposal.
- The use of strong, biocompatible, aesthetic tooth coloured composite filling materials has resulted in better outcomes for patients. These materials are best used when the filling is less than 50% of the remaining tooth structure. They can be done in one visit. They are a cost-effective option and give excellent outcomes.
- The colours can be matched to each tooth and will help reinforce the tooth to prevent cracks.
- Different composite materials are available in a wide range of shades to help mimic the colour of the surrounding tooth.
- The filling is built up in increments with close attention being paid to the shape of the tooth. The filling is then checked with bite paper when biting down and chewing on it to make sure the pressure is even. The final polish is given to the filling to ensure it is smooth and even.
- The filling is fully set and once the numbness has worn off, chewing can start again.
- There is usually some minor discomfort from the anaesthetic and some sensitivity for a day or two after and then this will resolve.
- This filling material is used for all teeth and any fillings placed on the front teeth can be made to blend in with the existing colour.
– The costs will vary depending on which tooth is being treated and the size of the filling
– The range would be from $160 to $350
How long do these fillings last?
– The research shows that composite fillings have a 7-10 year survival rate
– In a good environment where patients look after their teeth with good oral hygiene and diet, they get their teeth checked at 6 monthly intervals, there is no grinding of teeth then they can last longer.
Here is an example of a tooth-coloured composite filling replacing an old, metal amalgam filling which has cracked and decayed. The use of the blue rubber sheet (rubber dam) allows all the material to be safely removed without any material being swallowed, it allows the tooth to be dry when we are placing the new filling and keeps all the tissues away from the area we are working on. You can see that the end result is a functional, strong, aesthetically pleasing filling which will last a long time
This another example of how a failed amalgam filling can be replaced with a biocompatible, bonded, tooth coloured filling:
This is an example of a front tooth which has an older, stained filling which was replaced with a new composite filling to blend in and improve this patients’ smile.