Fillings, which can be made out of gold, porcelain (ceramic), amalgam, or composite materials, are used to treat the decayed part of the tooth after there has been a cavity or a hole on the surface. There are some advantages and disadvantages to each type of filling.

Gold is a filling material that is made up of gold, copper, and other strong metals. This can be high priced because of the actual value. Another disadvantage is that it is not a natural tooth color. Otherwise, gold is an excellent material for fillings because it has an amazing durability and resistance to tooth decay. Dentists need to remove only a minimal amount of tooth in order for it to be placed.

Porcelain can be cracked easier than gold it also has a higher price that is comparable to the price of gold. Porcelain is great if you would like to have a natural color because its color is identical to that of the tooth enamel. Also, just like with gold, very little amount of actual tooth needs to be removed in order for it to be placed. Porcelain would be a good choice for the restoration of the front teeth that do not have as much biting impact.

Amalgam which is made out of approximately 43 – 54% mercury combined with other metals including silver, copper, and tin has been said be a health hazard due to the amount of mercury involved in the filling (ADA). Although there are some concerns, there is still no evidence that amalgam fillings are bad for a patient's health. This is the least expensive filling material, one of the most durable and resistant materials. It can be placed in one visit and a patient will rarely have to come in for repair or replacement. Amalgam would be the one of the best choice of materials used for molars because they receive the most biting force.

Composite is similar to porcelain because it is not as strong as gold and amalgam, but it still provides good durability. The composite material also can be colored and shaded to match the tooth so that it cannot be noticed as well. This material is better suited for smaller restorations and since they are usually used with smaller restorations, only one visit to the dentist office is necessary.

There is also a low repair or replacement level that is similar to amalgam.


Definitions related to Fillings:

Enamel:  the first layer of the tooth

Restorations:  the repairing of an object to its original state


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