The Benefits of Tooth-colored Fillings
By Andrew Mortensen, DDS on October 01, 2013
Unfortunately, tooth decay and cavities are commonplace among people of all ages. But when it does come time to fill a cavity, wouldn’t you like that filling to be as discreet as possible? For patients wanting to restore the appearance and health of their teeth, Fountain Valley cosmetic dentist Andrew G. Mortensen provides the following information on the advantages of porcelain and resin fillings.
Types of Tooth-colored Fillings
Traditional fillings are made from an alloy of silver, mercury, and other metals. These are, appropriately, referred to as silver fillings or amalgam fillings. Amalgam remains one of the most popular materials for replacing tooth decay due to its low cost and durability. However, it also makes fillings stick out, especially when used near the front of the mouth.
For cavity treatment that won’t detract from your smile, dentists can use one of two tooth-colored materials:
- Composite resin: Resin is a synthetic mix of material, which can be created to match a wide range of colors. Although resin has been criticized for lacking amalgam’s longevity, continued advances in technology mean resins are becoming stronger and more reliable each year.
- Porcelain: Ceramic fillings - usually porcelain - can accurately mimic a tooth’s color while protecting it from decay. Additionally, it will not discolor over time.
Benefits of Composite Resin and Porcelain
Both composite and porcelain are visually superior to other fillings, including amalgam. They come in a variety of shades, allowing them to match virtually any patient’s individual tooth coloration. The advantages of these materials also extend beyond their ability to blend in.
Composite dental fillings are increasing in popularity for reasons beyond their cosmetic value. First, composite requires less drilling than conventional fillings. Whereas amalgam requires extra drilling to prepare it for adhesion, composite can efficiently bond on its own. Only decaying tissue needs to be removed, preserving a greater portion of the tooth.
This extra adherence also reinforces the tooth. Other fillings merely fill a cavity’s gap, but composite’s bond strengthens teeth on a structural level.
Newer and better resins are continually made available to patients. With proper hygiene, recent composites can last for a lifespan that is comparable to some silver fillings.
For many people, porcelain fillings are the most cosmetically advantageous option. They are able to integrate with teeth seamlessly, allowing patients a perfectly natural appearance. In addition, porcelain is a stain resistant material. With proper hygiene, it will retain its color indefinitely.
Since ceramics are more likely to break under pressure, porcelain is not as durable as composite or resin. However, an undamaged ceramic filling can last as long as amalgam, if not longer.
Crowns and Veneers
Fillings are not the only time when tooth-colored material is appealing. When a tooth must be capped or replaced, patients want the work to be as indistinguishable as possible from the rest of their teeth. Porcelain can be an optimal material for dental crowns or veneers, given the right care and expectations. Speak with your dentist to inquire about the full cosmetic advantages and disadvantages of porcelain.
Schedule an Appointment
For a consultation on which fillings will best suit your needs, contact our office today. Dr. Mortensen will gladly hear your concerns and provide you with personalized care for all your dental needs.
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“I am proud to have served patients in our community. Through continuing education and state-of-the-art equipment, we are able to offer you and your family the high level of care you're looking for.” Andrew G. Mortensen, D.D.S.