White vs. Amalgam vs. Gold Fillings
If you have a cavity and it needs a filling, there are different kinds of fillings for the job. Dr. Hunter cares about you and your oral health. If you have any questions or concerns about fillings, talk to Dr. Hunter or her staff. Dr. Hunter will advise you on the filling that works best in your particular case, and inform you about the aesthetic and cost implications for each type.
Composite fillings are also called plastic or white fillings. Getting this kind of filling depends on where the tooth is in your mouth. We bite down hard on the back teeth (molars), so composite fillings may not be a good choice for molars. Advantages: These fillings will be the same colour as your natural teeth. They cost less than gold fillings. They are direct fillings, so they can be done in one appointment. Disadvantages: This kind of filling can break down more easily than an amalgam or gold filling. Composite fillings cost more than amalgam fillings.
Amalgam fillings are sometimes called “silver” fillings. They are the most common type of filling used in Canada today. Because these fillings are silver in colour, they are used to fill the back teeth. They are a mix of metals such as silver, copper and tin. Advantages: These fillings are the least expensive type of filling. They last a long time. They are easy to put in place; because they are a direct filling, one visit to your dentist will do the job. Disadvantages: The silver colour may not appeal to people who want a “natural “look. A small amount of mercury is used to bind the metals together in this type of filling, however, for most people this bit of mercury is nothing to worry about. Studies have shown that amalgam fillings do not cause illness. They have been used for more than 150 years. Health Canada advises pregnant women in need of fillings to wait until the baby is born before they go ahead with the procedure. Dr. Hunter can suggest other kinds of fillings, if the work is urgent.
Cast Gold Fillings
When we speak of a “gold” restoration, we really mean gold alloy. An alloy is a combination of different metals. The dentist can choose from any number of alloys that offer the right properties for each patient. A gold filling is made in a dental lab and sent back to your dentist, who cements it in place in your mouth. You need two appointments to the dentist to get the job done. During your first visit Dr. Hunter prepares your tooth and takes an impression of that preparation. This is sent to the dental lab and the gold filling is made for your tooth. You return two weeks later to have Dr. Hunter cement the gold filling. Advantages: Gold is stronger than amalgam and composite, Gold fillings last longer then amalgam, which can save you money in the long run. Gold expands and contracts at the same amount as your natural tooth structure, therefore it does not cause cracks in the tooth.
Air abrasion is a drill-less technique that is being used by some dentists to remove tooth decay and for other applications. An instrument that works like a mini sandblaster is used to spray away decay. During air abrasion, a fine stream of particles is aimed at the decayed portion of the tooth. These particles are made of silica, aluminum oxide, or a baking soda mixture and are propelled toward the tooth surface by compressed air that runs through the dental handpiece. Small particles of decay on the tooth surface are removed as the stream of particles strikes them. The particles of decay are then suctioned away. Advantages: Air abrasion generates no heat, sound, pressure or vibration. Reduces the need for anaesthesia, particularly if the cavity is shallow. Leaves much more of the healthy tooth tissue. The procedure is relatively simple and quick. Disadvantages: Not recommended for deep cavities. Only composite materials can be used following this procedure (amalgam or silver fillings require drill-based cuts to prevent the filling from falling out.