Nearly 90% of adults in the U.S. will have at least one cavity in their lifetime. When a cavity develops, dentists remove decay from the tooth and “fill” it with a filling.
Most patients seek pain management and cavity treatment before further damage to a valuable tooth is done. Beyond health-based concerns for teeth, filling appearance is of great concern to many patients. Traditionally, fillings were a silver-colored material, known as amalgam, that were quite visible in contrast to the shade of a natural tooth. Nowadays, several tooth-colored options are available.
Advantages of Composite Fillings
- Aesthetics: The shade of the composite filling can be closely matched to existing teeth, making them virtually invisible. Composite can also be used in other cosmetic alterations, such as changing the color or shape of teeth.
- Bonding to Tooth Structure: The resin material in composite fillings micro-mechanically bond to tooth structure, providing further support.
- Versatility: Composite fillings are well-suited to small fillings and repairs. In addition, to use for decay, composite fillings can also be used to mend chipped, broken, or worn teeth.
- Tooth-Sparing Preparation: Material is slightly flexible resulting in reduced drilling and increased tooth preservation.
Disadvantages of Composite Fillings
- Lack of Longevity: Composite fillings wear out faster than amalgam fillings (lasting at least five years compared with 10 to 15 for amalgam fillings). Not ideal for areas of the mouth that sustain heavy use, such as the chewing surfaces of molars.
- Increased Chair Time: Because of the composite application process, these fillings can take up to 20 minutes longer than amalgam fillings to place.
- Chipping: Depending on location, composite materials can chip off teeth.
- Expense: Composite fillings can cost up to twice that of amalgam fillings. Some dental plans won’t cover the cost of a composite in areas of the mouth that sustain heavy use due to their reduced strength in comparison to amalgam.
Porcelain fillings are an additional option for filling a cavity.
Advantages of Porcelain Fillings
- Longevity: Porcelain Fillings usually last a minimum of 10 to 15 years and can sometimes last for decades.
- Durability: Porcelain Fillings are made of metal, which means that they present a hard surface.
- High Success Rate: Higher success rates than composite fillings.
- Aesthetics: Porcelain Fillings are a lot harder than resin and more natural-looking, blending well with surrounding teeth.
Disadvantages of Porcelain Fillings
- Expense: Porcelain fillings are the most expensive filling procedure.
- Additional Office Visits: Filling a cavity with porcelain requires more than one visit since several layers must be applied in order to properly repair the tooth decay.
- Increased Chair Time: It is more time-consuming to build the tooth in several layers.
Composite Versus Porcelain Fillings
Using a composite filling or a porcelain restoration is dependent upon the following five conditions:
- Cavity Size: Composite fillings make sense when the cavity was caused by decay.
- Cracked Teeth: If the tooth is cracked, a porcelain restoration is needed to protect the tooth from fracturing.
- Worn Teeth: Worn teeth can be restored with either material depending upon the extent and location of wear.
- Root Canal: Teeth that have had root canal therapy generally require porcelain crowns to protect them from breakage. These teeth are brittle and somewhat hollow as a result of the root canal.
- Tooth Modifications: Larger modifications including gaps between teeth, poorly aligned teeth, and teeth that are restored to improve the bite generally require the use of porcelain.
Dr. Sonia Olivares has dedicated her life to her patients’ oral health, beautiful smiles, and all the confidence that goes with them. She takes her time with each and every patient to ensure they receive proper care, from evaluation to procedure. Her goal is to completely resolve any dental issues her patients are faced with while providing courteous, knowledgeable, and professional service.
Dr. Sonia Olivares, together with her team of dental experts, have years of dental experience, are equipped with the latest technologically advanced dental equipment and offer affordable care to their patients in Coral Gables, Doral, FL and the surrounding areas.
Call the dental offices of iSmile or book your appointment online today.