WHAT IS A DENTAL FILLING?
A dental filling is a material used to restore the integrity, function, and morphology of a tooth, to repair the tooth from damage caused by factors such as decay. One of the most common factors which result in needing a filling is dental caries (cavities)
The process of restoring the tooth with a dental filling involves removing the part of the tooth that has the decay/damage and filling the area with the filling material. The filling imitates the shape of the tooth and helps restore strength and function. By covering the affected area with the filling, this also prevents any further decay.
There are many types of materials that can be used for a dental filling, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most common filling materials are as follows:
Amalgam: - Amalgam is a durable and lasting material that contains a mixture of metals, including mercury, silver, tin, and copper.
Composite Resin: - Composite Resin is a mixture made of plastic resin and glass or quartz particles. The mixture is also tooth-coloured and can be closely matched with the colour of the natural tooth, and as a result making the filling aesthetically pleasing.
Porcelain or Ceramic: - These kinds of fillings can also be matched to the colour of the natural teeth, but these materials are made in a dental laboratory. They are resistant to staining and can provide excellent durability.
Glass Ionomer: - Glass Ionomer is a tooth-coloured material that releases fluoride, this helps to prevent any further decay of the tooth. However, this material is not a durable as some of the other filling materials that have been mentioned.
Various factors can determine which filling material is best to use in each case, some of these factors include the extent to which the tooth has decayed, where the location of the tooth is and the patient’s preferences. Dentists take into consideration different factors before offering the patient options, some of these factors include aesthetics, durability, cost, and the patient's overall oral health.