However, most people will need a filling at some point in their lives.
In fact, over 8 million fillings are placed each year in the UK, making it one of the most common dental procedures.
Amalgam fillings, made from silver coloured metal alloy, are the traditional choice to successfully repair a tooth in the event of damage or decay. The treatment helps to save the tooth by restoring look and function for the long-term.
Amalgam fillings have been used for over 150 years and are extremely hard-wearing. When looked after properly, some can last for 20 years or more. Amalgam is a mixture of mercury and various other metals, including silver, tin and copper. They are seen to be more durable and longer-lasting than composite. The only stronger option is gold, but this is far more expensive.
Many patients are increasingly seeking a more natural looking alternative to amalgam fillings. There are cosmetic options available which give a more attractive finish. Your dentist can discuss the several types of fillings in more depth and recommend which type of filling would best suit you and your specific needs at your exam.
Gold fillings – even stronger and more durable than amalgam, gold fillings are very well suited to the back teeth, where more force is required for eating.
Composite (white) fillings – increasingly popular with many patients, white fillings are barely noticeable as they blend in seamlessly with your existing natural teeth.
Yes. There have been some concerns over the use of mercury in amalgam fillings, however scientific studies have shown that the small amount used is safe with no proof of a link to health issues. When in the alloy form with other metals, the chemical composition of mercury changes, making it harmless. In rare cases, some people very occasionally have allergies to amalgam and therefore opt for other treatments.
It is advised that pregnant women avoid amalgam fillings in order to stop mercury from passing onto their baby; our knowledgeable dentists can discuss any concerns you may have about dental treatment undertaken while pregnant.
Amalgam fillings are extremely hard-wearing and highly effective. On average, you can expect your amalgam filling to last for 15-20 years before needing to be replaced.
Yes, amalgam fillings can be removed, but if it is in good condition it is usually best to leave them in place. If your filling is cracked, worn, or there is decay present, it can be removed and replaced.
Many people are increasingly opting for cosmetic dentistry for the aesthetic benefits, with composite fillings much less noticeable in the mouth. If you dislike the look of the amalgam, it can be replaced with composite. Your dentist will remove the silver amalgam and any damaged tooth material, apply the composite and harden with a special light. Composite fillings are now very durable, with similar strength qualities to amalgam.
Amalgam fillings are a very affordable way to repair a tooth cavity. They are very cost-effective, as they offer longer lasting, long-term results and can last many years with proper care.
The short answer is no. Amalgam fillings are silver and so much more noticeable in the mouth when you laugh or talk. For this reason, they are best suited to the back of the mouth where they won’t be as visible. If you are worried about your filling looking natural, it may be better to opt for a composite filling. Composite is tooth coloured, can be matched to the natural shade of your teeth and blend seamlessly with your smile.
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