Fillings are widely used to fill cavities, holes, which develop in the tooth surface. Fillings strengthen the tooth, and they can also help to reduce the spread of infection. Traditionally, amalgam fillings were used to fill the teeth, but white fillings are increasingly common nowadays. White fillings are also known as composite fillings.

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About white fillings

White fillings were first introduced in the 1960’s. They are made from a material called dental composite, which is combined with resins and glass ionmers containing silicon dioxide. When composite fillings were first introduced, they were generally only recommended for the front teeth. Today, they are suited to most patients, as they are much tougher and stronger than the white fillings of old.
White fillings are popular because they offer very natural looking, discreet aesthetics. Once your white filling is in place, you won’t be able to see it when you smile or speak. Composite fillings are also better for the environment than amalgam fillings. Although there have been major improvements in durability, amalgam fillings tend to last a little longer.


How is a white filling placed?

Before you have a filling, the dentist will numb your tooth and then clear the cavity and clean the tooth. Once the cavity is free from debris and decayed tissue, bonding agent is applied to the tooth surface. This helps the composite to adhere. The composite, which is putty-like at room temperature, is then placed inside the cavity and shaped to fit the hole. We will then shine a curing light onto the tooth, which will set the composite and make it firm. Once the filling is hard, the next step is to check the fit and make any necessary adjustments.


Amalgam fillings

White fillings are a modern alternative to amalgam fillings. These fillings are made from mercury and a combination of other materials, including powdered tin, copper and silver. Amalgam fillings are silver in colour, and they are usually used to fill the back teeth, the molars.
Amalgam fillings are strong and durable and they have a longer lifespan than white fillings. Although some people have concerns about the safety of using mercury amalgam fillings, there is little evidence to challenge the fact that amalgam fillings are perfectly safe.


What are the main differences between amalgam and composite fillings?

If you need a filling, you may be wondering which type of filling is best for you. Here are some of the main differences:

Price Amalgam fillings are available on the NHS, while composite filings are considered a cosmetic treatment and may therefore only be available privately.
Aesthetics White fillings are designed to blend in with the natural tooth shade for a seamless aesthetic. Amalgam fillings are silver in colour and may be clearly visible, depending on the location of the tooth.
Longevity Amalgam fillings last longer than white fillings and are generally considered to be stronger and more hard-wearing.

If you have any questions about fillings, or you’d like to learn more about the different types available why not get in touch with us today?

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