There are alternative, natural-looking materials to conventional silver-colored fillings – materials made from porcelain and composite resins, which are colored to match natural tooth enamel. Unfortunately, few materials can match the strength and durability of dental amalgam and such, may need more frequent replacement. Common amalgam alternatives include:
- Composite fillings — As stated, composite fillings are just what the name implies: a mixture of resins and fine particles designed to mimic the color of natural teeth. While not as strong as dental amalgam, composite fillings provide a pleasing aesthetic alternative. Sometimes, composite resins need to be cemented, or bonded to a tooth to allow for better adhesion.
- Ionomers — Like composite resins, these materials are tooth-colored. Ionomers are made from a combination of various materials, including ground glass and acrylic resins. Ionomers are typically used for fillings near the gum line or tooth root, where biting pressure is not a factor. They are more fragile than dental amalgam, however. A small amount of fluoride is released by these compounds in order to facilitate strengthened enamel in the affected area.
- Porcelain (ceramic) — This material is usually a combination of porcelain, glass powder and ceramic. Candidates for porcelain fillings are typically crowns, veneers and onlays and inlays. Unlike ionomers, porcelain fillings are more durable but can become fractured if exposed to prolonged biting pressures.
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Why Dental Fillings Are Necessary
After you are born your mouth becomes susceptible to bacteria. As you grow older these different types of bacteria find their way in your mouth and set up a permanent residence there. These bacteria you will have to deal with for the rest of your life.
Since these bacteria live on your teeth, every time you eat something that they enjoy eating, such as candy and other sugary foods, you are providing food for them. Feeding them doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, but it is!
After the bacteria eats the sugary foods that you enjoy, they will produce a very strong acid that eats away at your teeth. If you don’t remove this sticky layer of bacteria (commonly known as plaque) by brushing and flossing, the bacteria will keep destroying a tiny amount of your tooth structure every day until you get a hole in your tooth. These holes are known by many names, such as tooth decay and cavities.
Are dental amalgams safe? Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to amalgam? Is it true that dental amalgams have been banned in other countries? Is there a filling material that matches tooth color? If my tooth doesn’t hurt and my filling is still in place, why would the filling need to be replaced?
There are alternative, natural-looking materials to conventional silver-colored fillings – materials made from porcelain and composite resins, which are colored to match natural tooth enamel.