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The materials used for the restoration of a tooth that has lost part of its integrity vary according to the amount of tooth substance that is missing. The materials can vary from a paste type of material that harden once they are placed into a prepared cavity, or a combination of glass and resin that sets via physical or chemical mechanisms. Examples of these fillings are amalgams, glass ionomers and composites.

Amalgam fillings are made up of an alloy/mixture of various metals with Mercury used as the binding agent. There has been some controversy regarding amalgam fillings due to the use of Mercury which is toxic to humans, but no conclusive proof has been presented confirming the toxicity of amalgam fillings, and amalgam fillings are still widely used in a lot a dental practices, though not at Kohimarama Dental Centre

Composite Fillings
These are the most widely used type of fillings.  They are made from a glass fibre resin and filler material and are bonded to your teeth.  Due to the vast range of colours available, they are matched to your teeth making them almost impossible to detect.

Composite fillings can be used for back teeth, but very large fillings generally don’t last as long as amalgams, but should still be considered as a first choice if you have any concerns about mercury toxicity.

Glass Ionomer Fillings
These are another high quality material used for fillings especially suitable for areas where strength is less important, for eg; the gum line and in children’s molars

Gold and Porcelain Inlays/Onlays
These are very effective filling materials due to their strength and long term durability. They are however much more expensive and cost approximately the same as crowns.

When the destruction is more extensive, indirect restorations such as crowns, veneers inlays or onlays are usually used; the aim of which is not only to restore the integrity of the crown but also to protect the remaining tooth structure. Please refer to the section on Crowns for more info

How do you prevent fillings
Fissures in teeth are prone to decay. If your dentist detects early decay, a preventative resin restoration can prevent further decay and the need for further larger fillings later on.  Its is normally completed by making a tiny cavity using very small drills or air abrasion. A bonded filling is then placed in this cavity.  This seals off the area in the fissure, keeping out bacteria and preventing further decay.

Replacing Amalgam fillings

Before and After.
Replacement of amalgam fillings with composite fillings

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