Despite regular and thorough dental care, it can happen that tooth decay attacks a tooth and a hole has to be drilled. Then the question of the right filling material arises. There are different choices between fillings with different advantages and disadvantages that a patient should be aware of in order to make the right decision.
When a tooth filling becomes necessary
If a tooth is damaged, for example by caries, it is part of the dental care to repair the affected tooth. A filling is then used to fill and seal a hole or other damage that has occurred so that the damage cannot progress. In dentistry, a distinction is made between inlays and plastic fillings.
Inlays include cast metal fillings such as gold and ceramic fillings. Amalgam and plastic fillings, on the other hand, are plastic fillings. Before the actual filling takes place, the affected tooth must be treated. If the tooth is affected by caries, it must first be removed with drills. Then it is necessary to grind the tooth in the area of the intended filling in order to ensure the necessary hold for the filling. If an old filling is present, it must also be completely removed. The affected area is then disinfected and dried in preparation for the filling.
Which fillings are available?
In the course of time, various materials for filling teeth have established themselves in dentistry. All materials have the important medical properties for dental fillings, but they are relatively different in themselves. Each material has both advantages and negative properties, depending on the patient’s situation, which is crucial for the right choice.
For a long time the most used material for dental fillings. An amalgam filling consists of silver, copper, tin and mercury. This mixture is considered to be particularly durable, an exchange after a few years is rarely necessary. In addition, the material is particularly stable and is therefore frequently used in molars. In the visible anterior region, however, the metal colour is rather unsuitable. Mercury in particular has been criticized for a long time for making people ill because it is deposited in the body. However, the amount of mercury contained in amalgam should not be hazardous to health. Nevertheless, it was decided this year that no more amalgam fillings should be used for the patient groups pregnant women, nursing mothers and children. The health insurance companies will cover the full cost of amalgam fillings.
A plastic dental filling made of plastic is a popular alternative to amalgam. It is preferred especially in the visible anterior region, as the colour of the material can hardly be distinguished from the natural tooth colour. But molar fillings are also possible with this material. Due to their colour, plastic fillings are considered to be particularly aesthetic and are therefore chosen most frequently. The necessary properties such as stability and biocompatibility are given. However, the material is still considered to be brittle and an exchange after a certain period of time may well become necessary. As a rule, health insurance companies only cover part of the costs.
Ceramic inlays or veneers are particularly similar to natural teeth, have the same thermal conductivity and, if necessary, can even stabilize the tooth, thus avoiding a partial or full crown. The fabrication is complex, but an excellent and durable material that is particularly suitable from an aesthetic point of view. The costs for this type of dental filling are correspondingly high and are only partially covered by statutory health insurance.
Composite fillings consist of a mixture of ceramic, glass, plastic and quartz. They are particularly good in the anterior region because they can be adapted to the natural tooth shade. One advantage is that the affected tooth only needs a few additional grindings to fill the hole. Unlike other filling materials, the filling is applied layer by layer by the dentist. Composite fillings are also used in molar teeth, but only if the hole is not too large and the side walls remain intact. This filling material is a real alternative to amalgam, but must be replaced relatively sooner than other filling materials. Here, too, the statutory health insurances only cover a proportion of the costs and patients have to pay something extra. Under certain circumstances, however, the entire costs are covered.
Gold is still regarded as a particularly valuable material, which is also one reason why this precious metal has also been used as a dental filling for many years. In addition, it has the dental properties necessary to remain in a person’s mouth for many years. Gold has a particularly long durability compared to other dental fillings, but for aesthetic reasons it is not particularly suitable for the visible dental area. However, filling a hole in a tooth with gold is much more complex than filling it with plastic, for example. A precise impression of the hole is necessary to make the filling a perfect fit. This is then attached to the tooth with special adhesive or even cement. Gold is a quite expensive filling material, which receives no or only very small subsidies by the legal health insurance company.
Durability of dental fillings
How long a tooth filling lasts depends on the chosen material. The vast majority of the fillings presented here will last about 15 years before they need to be replaced. The durability also depends on the care and can go far beyond the stated years. Fillings made of precious metals are particularly durable with up to 20 years. Composite fillings can lose their stability after only 8 years. In addition to costs, durability is definitely also a factor that should be taken into account when choosing the right filling.
Do you have any questions on the subject, the right fillings? Then make an appointment and come to our 360°tooth practice in Düsseldorf. We will be happy to advise you personally.