2 alternatives to metal tooth fillings
If you’ve ever had metal fillings in your teeth, you know what they look like. You also may have experienced a filling suddenly falling out, or the pain you sometimes get after getting a filling as it reacts to other metal fillings in your mouth.
For years dentists have used a mixture of metals to repair their patients’ cavities with the familiar silver-colored fillings. This amalgamation of metals gives these fillings the common name amalgam fillings.
Metal fillings have been used safely for many years, but today there are some concerns about the mercury they contain. Non-metal fillings eliminate that concern, and they offer other benefits as well. The most common alternatives to metal tooth fillings are fillings made of resin or of porcelain.
1. Opt for resin
Resin fillings are sometimes called composite, or white fillings. They are made from a mixture of materials including acrylic and glass. These fillings contain no mercury, and in addition, they are the color of teeth. This makes them ideal for fillings in the front teeth. Because the resin bonds to your tooth’s surface, these types of fillings usually require less drilling.
2. Choose ceramic
Porcelain fillings, also called ceramic fillings, are stronger than other types of fillings. They are sometimes used for large fillings or inlays, which are fillings on the tooth’s surface. Porcelain has the most natural-looking appearance of the available filling materials, and it is the strongest and longest lasting.
Why we think white fillings are better
In addition to being mercury-free and more attractive than metal fillings, resin and porcelain fillings have a few other advantages.
- Before a traditional metal filling is placed, the dentist has to drill away the decayed portion and make a space to fill in with the filling material. This usually results in a small portion of healthy tooth being taken away as well. Non-metal fillings do not require as much removal of the healthy portion of the tooth.
- They also bond to the teeth, and while they can eventually wear down, they will not fall out the way that metal fillings can.
- The irritation you can sometimes get after having metal fillings placed is eliminated with composite and porcelain fillings as well.