Fillings (or restorations) are used to repair a hole in the tooth caused by decay. A number of treatment options are available:
- Amalgam: made from a mixture of metals including mercury, silver, tin copper and zinc. The only problem with amalgam is that it doesn’t look aesthetically appealing, it does not strengthen the tooth and it contains mercury which has possible side effects. With the advances in technology, we now have non-metallic tooth-coloured materials replacing amalgam. Having said that, there are still a few instances in which amalgam remains the material of choice.
- Composites/Tooth-coloured fillings: Regarded as the material of choice as they require more conservative preparations, have a strengthening effect on the tooth, are aesthetically appealing and virtually blend in with the tooth, usually hardened by exposure to a bright light source.
- Direct Composite Inlay: Sometimes a tooth is so severely damaged and weakened that we need a material stronger than the normal composites-filling. When a dental composite material is subjected to intense heat and light, a more complete polymerization or setting reaction is achieved. This substantially improves the physical properties of the material.
The indirect inlay is more superior in terms of appearance & durability compared to a normal filling. In this case and impression is taken of the prepared cavity. The restoration is made by a dental technician in the laboratory. Materials used can be composite, ceramic, porcelain or gold.
- Porcelain: has the advantage of being highly aesthetic, but disadvantage of being too brittle therefore susceptible to breakage. It is more technique-sensitive to use than composites requiring at least 2 dental visits to place. This costs significantly more than amalgam or composite filling.
- Gold: is extremely durable and has fair aesthetic value and does not damage the opposing tooth