Not only has cosmetic dentistry advanced and improved so many treatments and procedures, but it has encouraged other areas of dentistry to improve alongside it.
Now today, there are several dental filling materials available for our patients, who can choose which will be the most suitable and complementary to their smiles.
Dental fillings offered by private dentists are quick and easy procedures, who can restore chipped, cracked and even decayed teeth with minimal fuss.
The aim of restorative general dentistry is to:
- Restore the correct functioning of the tooth
- To preserve natural tooth tissues
- To support weakened teeth that have lost considerable tooth structure.
- To prevent further spread of any active infectious lesions
- To preserve the nerves of a tooth so that the tooth remains alive. We call this preserving the Pulp Vitality.
- To restore the aesthetics of a tooth. Teeth need to look like teeth regardless of whether they are back teeth or front teeth. If by restoring a tooth we can also improve the aesthetics then we do this at the same time.
“The main aim is to remove all the chipped, decavyed and infected tooth tissue. We then try and conserve as much sound tooth tissue as possible.”
We achieve these aims by using a variety of white-teeth fillings that help restore and enhance your teeth.
We commonly use materials such as new-age composites and porcelains that are incredibly durable and aesthetically-pleasing too.
The biggest choice patients have when it comes to having their fillings fitted is which material will be the most appropriate?
Teeth can be filled with either gold, porcelain, silver amalgam, or even tooth-coloured composite resin materials.
Deciding which one will work best for you will all depend on the size and extent of the decay, the cost of the material and your dentist’s recommendation.
Cast gold fillings can be a popular choice because they last a lot longer than alternative materials and do not corrode.
It also boils down to preference as some patients prefer gold to silver fillings.
However, gold cast fillings can cost up to ten times higher than other materials.
An indirect process that requires a minimum of two appointments, one to cut and temporize, the other to cement the filling.
It’s also recommended that if opting for gold, that other fillings in the mouth need to consist of the same material, this is because galvanic shock can be caused when gold fillings are placed immediately next to a silver amalgam.
This happens when metal and saliva come into contact and cause an electric current, however, this is a rare occurrence.
Amalgam (silver fillings)
Probably one of the most common filling types, silver fillings are highly durable and can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years.
As they are very strong and less expensive than other tooth filling materials, silver fillings are often the go-to choice for patients on a budget.
However, due to recent developments in general and cosmetic dentistry, the poor aesthetics caused by silver fillings not matching existing teeth have left patients wanting something more discreet and natural.
Some slight disadvantages of silver fillings include its process, where it may need to destroy some of the tooth structure to make enough room for the amalgam filling.
They have also been known to discolour the surrounding tooth structure grey.
Composite fillings have emerged as the popular choice for patients purely for aesthetic reasons.
The shade/colour of these composite fillings is specifically matched to the colour of your existing teeth, thus giving a natural-looking restoration to the tooth.
This has made it extremely useful for patients who need fillings in the front or visible parts of their teeth. And because they micro-mechanically bond to your tooth structure, they provide additional support for your tooth.
When comparing this tooth filling type against amalgam fillings, they are less invasive as they require less of the tooth structure to be removed.
However, the only downside to this material is that it is not as strong or as durable as silver or gold, particularly if they are used for bigger cavities.
These fillings are made of high-quality, long-lasting porcelain and ceramic materials, which are resistant to staining.
Considered as permanent tooth fillings, the durability benefits of this material means that your tooth restoration can last longer than 15 years, blend perfectly with existing teeth and cost around the same amount as gold fillings.
This material gives patients the chance to receive permanent fixes to chips, cracks and breaks in their teeth caused by decay and never have to worry about them again!
Throughout the years, white fillings have somewhat gained a bad reputation for not being as sturdy or hard-wearing as other materials.
But thanks to rapidly improving technology over the last decade, white fillings have become a lot stronger, which has meant they have become the people’s first choice when it comes to filling their teeth.
To completely compare them to other materials, white fillings tend to be weaker and do not always last as long as silver fillings, plus there is a greater chance for activities to reform underneath the filling (recurrent decay).
Read more about white fillings here.
How long do teeth fillings last?
- Amalgam: 15 years
- Composite: 7 years
- Ceramic: 15 years+
- Glass Ionomer: 5 years
The cheapest tooth filling options: Tooth filling costs
Filling prices in the UK can vary due to a number of factors, for example, white fillings on the NHS can cost just as much as Amalgam, but they are only offered to patients in certain circumstances.
Fillings can cost around £65 via the NHS in England (Band 2 treatment charge), however, depending on the decay you may need other complex procedures to be carried out at the same time, which will increase the charging price to Band 3.
Here, at the Perfect Smile, our tooth coloured fillings are priced from £150.
See our full list of dental fees here.
There are essentially three ways of examining teeth that may be in need of fillings:
Visual examination. An experienced dentist with a highly trained eye can use an instrument called “the dental probe” to carefully examine all the surfaces of each tooth in your mouth to detect for any breakages, fracture lines and/or infection of the tooth (decay). We also look for any deterioration in your existing fillings and other restorations.
X-rays. These are imaging techniques that use a form of electromagnetic radiation called x-rays to produce the image of the inside of any tooth onto a sensitive film. We use digital radiographs that have faster x-rays and lower emission rates making them safer than traditional radiographs. There are different types of radiographs that give different views of the teeth.
These x-rays help us to detect any infection or anomalies within the tooth structure or in the bone. This is especially important when the outside of the tooth looks normal yet the tooth is giving the patient symptoms.
Use of light. Focused light can be reflected onto teeth at various angles to determine any changes in the tooth tissues. When micro-fractures or decay is present then the refractive index of the tooth show up these anomalies.
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Medically reviewed & updated on March 1, 2021