Having a filling is an extremely common procedure (around 8 million cavities are treated with amalgam fillings each year in the UK) and most of us, at some point in our lives, will have a cavity that needs attention.
Amalgam fillings are a well-established way to repair tooth damage. They offer a highly effective way to restore the structure and functionality of a tooth, particularly the back teeth. This type of filling has been used for over 180 years, so it has been tried and tested on millions of mouths.
Amalgam fillings are the traditional choice, made from a combination of metals including tin, copper, silver and mercury. Although the inclusion of mercury has attracted some controversy, a number of scientific studies have concluded that it has no adverse side effects.
- Extremely hard wearing
- Quicker to place than composite fillings
- Less expensive than alternative restorative methods
- The area to be treated is numbed with a local anaesthetic and if needed the decayed part of the tooth removed with special dental tools.
- A base or liner may be placed in the tooth to prevent sensitivity following the procedure.
- The amalgam is mixed and then placed in the tooth. It is tightly compacted to ensure every part of the cavity is filled.
- The amalgam is then shaped to resemble the tooth and, if necessary, it is smoothed down so it feels comfortable.
If looked after properly, amalgam fillings can last for years and are particularly suitable for teeth that are subjected to lots of wear and tear, such as those at the back of the mouth.
Composite (white) fillings
While amalgam fillings are the most durable and affordable solution to a damaged tooth, they aren’t the most appealing. Because of this, we also offer composite fillings that can be fitted to appear exactly like a natural tooth.
As well as providing an effective repair for tooth decay or damage, composite (or white) fillings are also a natural-looking alternative to more obvious amalgam fillings. This is because they are made from tooth-coloured resin; a mixture of plastic and glass that blends in beautifully with your teeth.
They support the structure of a damaged tooth, helping to prevent further breakage or sensitivity, and can be placed in the front or back teeth.
- They blend in beautifully with your natural teeth
- Modern materials make them a durable choice
- Less of the tooth needs to be removed before placement of the filling
- They can restore decayed, chipped, worn or broken teeth
- The area to be treated is numbed with a local anaesthetic and the decayed part of the tooth removed.
- A gel is applied to the tooth, creating tiny holes to allow the composite material to bond effectively.
- The acidic gel is washed away and the tooth dried.
- A priming agent is applied so the composite filling will form a strong bond.
- The colour matched shade of composite is then applied in layers and moulded to match the shape of the tooth.
- The resin is hardened with a special bright light and it is then polished to look like a natural part of the tooth.
Although not considered to be as long-lasting as amalgam fillings, composite fillings are a far more attractive option and are now produced from modern materials that offer improved durability, particularly in small cavities. How long they last will depend on the depth of the cavity to be filled and its position in the mouth.
To prevent decay forming around the composite filling, it is important to brush at least twice a day and see your dentist for regular check-ups.
Before and After
Case Study 1