The cavity is the biggest and most frequent dental issue in this day and age. Fortunately, cavities are easy to spot and remove. But, in order to fix the tooth decay caused by a cavity properly, dentists need to fill up the hole left on the tooth by the said cavity. This is where dental fillings are used. Amalgam fillings have been used for a very long time, but, in recent years, the popularity of white fillings, which appear less obvious on the teeth, has been on the rise. However, even though they’re more aesthetically pleasing, the fact of the matter is that they typically don’t last as long as amalgam fillings. That doesn’t mean patients can’t prolong the longevity of their white fillings with proper oral hygiene though.
2 Types of White Fillings
In order to further discuss the longevity of white fillings, it’s important to note that there are actually 2 types of them. The widely available type of white teeth filling is the composite filling, which is also less expensive of the two. They mix the plastic and ceramic in order to combine the best of both worlds – flexibility and toughness. The other type includes ceramic i.e. porcelain fillings.
How Long Do Porcelain Fillings Last?
Actually, porcelain fillings tend to be very durable, and they can last up to 30 years when treated properly. This is even longer than amalgam in some cases. However, porcelain fillings also tend to be very expensive, which is precisely why not that many people opt for them.
How Long Do Composite Fillings Last?
On the other hand, composite white fillings are rather affordable, which makes them available to a wider audience. Thanks to their flexibility, it’s possible to work with them with ease even when dental work has to be performed on smaller cavities. The entire process is pretty quick, too. However, as another more natural solution, due to their color, it’s true that composite fillings are not as durable as porcelain or amalgam fillings. They can go strong for about five years, after which they are bound to slowly deteriorate. Still, they can last up to 12 years with proper maintenance and good oral hygiene.
What Can Composite Be Used For?
Thanks to its amazing versatility, composite isn’t only used as a filling to repair cavity; it’s also great for repairing smaller chips that can occur on front teeth, adding the lost teeth layer due to grinding/erosion, transforming the shape and size of the teeth, as well as getting used as the key veneers ingredient.
Make Your White Fillings Last Longer
There are plenty of different factors that will affect the longevity of white fillings. The most important factor of all has everything to do with oral hygiene. In that sense, regular brushing, flossing, and checkups are a must-have in preserving them.
So, the key to longer durability of fillings is to brush your teeth twice a day and try to floss at least once a day, before bed. The choice of toothbrush and the pressure can have a tremendous effect on longevity as well. That said, opt for soft or medium toothbrushes and never press the toothbrush too hard.
Furthermore, the size and location of the filling can also impact its longevity, especially considering the surrounding dental issues or the bad habit of grinding/clenching the teeth. In general, smaller fillings have a chance of surviving for longer as there’s less risk involved in cracks developing due to teeth grinding/crunching. If you have a larger cavity, your dentist might suggest other types of fillings better suited for the said size.
Smoking and drinking alcohol are the biggest enemies of composite fillings, and dental health in general. If you don’t want to quit tobacco or alcohol, you should also expect the fillings to deteriorate faster. In case you can’t quit these habits completely but still wish to prolong the longevity of your fillings, at least try to cut back.
What Is the Procedure?
Essentially, it doesn’t take more than one dentist appointment to get composite fillings. The first thing the dentist will do is analyze and prepare the tooth affected by decay. Then it’s time to remove the decay completely and clean the area thoroughly. With all that done and out of the way, the dentist will place layers of composite resin on the affected spot. Each layer will be further hardened with a laser light, specifically made for this purpose. The last step involves the shaping and polishing of the resin to match the rest of the teeth, allowing for a comfortable bite, and minimized staining.
In general, the entire process takes about an hour. Of course, it might take a bit longer or shorter depending on the complexity of the decay.
What’s more, the composite filling procedure doesn’t cause as much discomfort and sensitivity as other fillings. It’s completely normal for the patient to feel sensitivity during the procedure as the dentist cleans the tooth and removes the decay. Once the anesthetic wears off, there will be slight sensitivity involved, but nothing too severe. Patients will have a slight alien feeling on the tongue but that passes after a couple of days.
Pros and Cons of White Fillings
If you can’t decide what type of filling to go for as you have several options available, it’s important to address both the advantages and disadvantages of composite fillings:
- Composite fillings come in many shades of white and can be adjusted easily to match the color of the teeth, making the filling less detectable
- Unlike amalgam fillings, composite fillings are not made of metal, which also means that there’s no danger associated with mercury content
- Using white fillings typically entails faster recovery with less discomfort and sensitivity compared to amalgam
- Further tooth decay can be concealed by amalgam fillings on X-Ray, which doesn’t happen with composite fillings
- There’s less cracking involved
- Even though composite fillings are rather affordable, they are still more expensive than amalgam fillings
- It’s crucial to seek an experienced and renowned dental professional for the procedure of placing white fillings as this requires more skillful practice than the application of amalgam fillings
- The entire process of getting these fillings tends to last a bit longer than amalgam fillings as the treated area needs to be completely dry
Should I Replace My Amalgam Fillings with White Fillings?
If your amalgam fillings are still going strong, there’s no need to replace them unless you really want to. It all depends on whether you feel self-conscious about the appearance of metal fillings and would rather have the filling match the color of your teeth. Of course, in case your amalgam filling is already damaged, you can replace it with the white one immediately, without having to wait for it to deteriorate. Make sure to discuss this with your dentist as they will be able to advise you on the best solution in regard to the size and location of the amalgam filling.
We at Gables Sedation Dentistry pride ourselves on delivering top-notch dental service to our patients, with the aid of the latest equipment and techniques. Maintaining one’s oral health is crucial for ensuring the overall health too, which is precisely why we treat all of our patients with great respect and care. You can get in touch with us to book an appointment or simply get more information about the procedures and treatments we’re offering.