There is one thing that nearly every dental patient we see has in common: a cavity. In fact, it is estimated that the average adult will have three cavities at some point during their lifetime. Of course, some individuals may have more, while others might have none. But chances are, at some point in your life, you have had or will have a cavity. Dental fillings are the standard treatment for cavities, but not all dental fillings are the same. Keep reading to learn about fillings and the different types that are available.

What are Dental Fillings?

Fillings are used to repair damage caused by tooth decay. Specifically, it is a material that fills in the holes caused by cavities in order to prevent further decay. In addition to treating cavities, fillings can also be used to reshape teeth from damage caused by teeth grinding or other habits. They are used to repair and prevent tooth damage in both children and adults. 

Getting a filling does not usually take long. The process typically includes:

  • Numbing the area with an anesthetic 
  • Removing existing tooth decay
  • Filling in the empty space with the desired material
  • Polishing the tooth

Sometimes, if a cavity is small and just on the surface, your dentist may not numb the area first. However, they will always discuss the process with you beforehand so you know exactly what to expect before, during, and after it. Never be afraid to ask questions about the procedure.

Types of Dental Fillings

When it comes to dental fillings, there are several types. While they all do the job they are designed for, they vary in terms of popularity, cost, and longevity. The most common types of dental fillings are:

  • Silver amalgam
  • Gold
  • Composite
  • Ceramic
  • Glass ionomer

Learn about the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each kind of dental filling below.

Silver Amalgam Fillings
When you think of a filling, this type may be what comes to mind. Made of silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury, these fillings are durable and more affordable than other types. With proper care, they can last up to 12 years. One drawback to silver fillings is their appearance; their dark material is far from discreet, which leads some individuals to select other filling options. Additionally, in recent years there have been concerns regarding the mercury in these fillings; however, the ADA has stated that the amount of mercury is not enough to cause concern.

Gold Fillings
Due to the nature of gold, gold fillings are the most durable kind of dental filling, lasting up to 20 years! Unlike other kinds of fillings, these do not corrode over time from the constant interaction with saliva. Unsurprisingly, gold fillings are very expensive, so they are not the most common choice despite their strong performance. Placing and properly fitting gold fillings takes more than one dental visit, which can be inconvenient for some.

Composite Fillings
Composite is the most common type of dental filling today. They are made of a mixture of plastic resin and glass filler. One of the greatest advantages of these fillings is that they can be customized to match your natural teeth, which is why they are so popular. They last an average of five to seven years, so while they are durable, they are not the most durable filling type and may need to be replaced more often. In terms of cost, they tend to fall in the middle range, more expensive than silver but less expensive than gold.

Ceramic Fillings
Also called porcelain fillings, these dental fillings are becoming more and more popular. Like composite fillings, they can be customized to match the natural shade of your teeth. With proper care, they should last anywhere from 15 to 20 years. While these stain-resistant fillings are more durable than composite fillings, they are also more expensive.

Glass Ionomer Fillings
The main thing that sets glass ionomer, or acrylic, fillings apart from the rest is that they can release fluoride and therefore prevent future tooth decay. On the other hand, they are the least durable of dental fillings, lasting around five years. This, however, makes them a good choice for child fillings, since baby teeth will soon be leaving to make room for adult teeth. They can be customized to match one’s natural teeth.

Dental Fillings in Berkeley, CA

If you are looking to get a cavity filled, Ashby Dental is here to walk you through your options and help you make the best decision for your teeth. From dental fillings to implants, we are here to help restore your oral health and function. Seeking help sooner than later can actually prevent any existing dental issues from becoming more serious. For example, getting a cavity filled right away can prevent a future root canal. 

Be sure to contact us today to schedule an appointment and keep your oral health in great shape!