Amalgam vs. Composite Fillings
Dental Sealants and Fluorides Prevent Tooth Decay in Children
If you have a sweet tooth and don't practice good oral hygiene, prepare to hear your dentist say, "You need dental fillings." True, it's not the scarlet letter. But being told you need a tooth filling can feel like you've just been handed a badge of dishonor. Good thing is today you can get a cavity filling and keep it on the down low. With a tooth-colored composite dental filling, there's virtually no distinction between your tooth filling and real tooth. Unlike silver fillings of years past, today's fillings look natural and often take less time to complete but offer the same durability and protection.
Q: What are "white" fillings?
A: White fillings are the same as composite or porcelain dental fillings. A "white" cavity filling can be made of composite resin (glass or quartz plus resin) or porcelain. Unlike silver (amalgam), these cavity filling materials mimic your natural tooth color, making them virtually invisible. Good-looking as they are, not every cavity is a perfect match for a white tooth filling; only small to medium-sized cavities are. As for their strength and durability, a white dental filling can last 7-10 years; not as long as silver, but you'll get plenty of mileage for your money.
Q: I have some sensitivity in my dental filling. What does that mean?
A: It's common to experience some sensitivity after getting a tooth filling, especially when the tooth is exposed to hot, cold or sweet food/drink, pressure and air. This usually lasts 1-2 weeks.
During that time, avoid the things that cause sensitivity; after two weeks, call your dentist if sensitivity hasn't subsided.
Q: Why do I have to replace dental fillings?
A: Strong as they may be, even dental fillings have an expiration date. Over time, silver fillings may corrode or tarnish. A white tooth filling may stain. Worse, fillings can fall out, crack or leak after enduring years of pressure. In any of these scenarios, the dental filling needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Sometimes dental fillings aren't completely replaced but repaired instead. This depends on the amount of damage done to the cavity filling.
Q: How can I make my fillings last?
A: Brushing your teeth, flossing and seeing your dentist for regular dental exams and teeth cleanings are key. Using fluoride toothpaste is a must too. If you have many or large fillings, your dentist may give you a fluoride gel, which can help strengthen your teeth.