or more than 150 years dentists have used silver or amalgam as the go-to filler for tooth cavities. The material is less-expensive than others and is relatively easy to care for.
Metallic fillings do have drawbacks, and research has demonstrated that silver fillings can expand and contract depending on hot and cold temperatures in the mouth. When the metal expands under increased temperatures the surrounding tooth can crack. In colder temperatures the metal can contract and allow acids and germs to seep into the cavity.
Concerned groups have also highlighted the negative health effects of mercury found in metal fillings. In larger amounts mercury may be linked to headaches, nausea, and memory loss, or even brain damage and death in the most extreme circumstances. It’s important to note that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finds no reason for concern over the mercury content in silver amalgam but that other health associations disagree with this decision.
Everyone agrees that metallic fillings are ugly, and many dentists now recommend the use of porcelain fillings over silver amalgam.
What Are The Advantages Of Porcelain Fillings?
Porcelain fillings have become an increasingly popular choice among patients who value oral hygiene and pleasing aesthetics. Here are the main reasons to consider porcelain fillings for any new cavities and also to consider replacing old metalling fillings with porcelain.
- They Look Better – Porcelain is a versatile material that can match the natural color of teeth. This means you can smile and open your mouth wide without worrying that others will notice reparative dental work. It’s also durable and stain resistant and can last for many years.
- Ideal for Reparative Purposes – Porcelain can be made to fit a wide array of tooth shapes and cavities. It’s ideal for filling small to medium-sized holes that have formed from decay. Once the material is applied it can be smoothed and shaped to resemble a natural tooth.
- Preserves Healthy Tooth Tissue – a major drawback of metal fillings is that the material does not bond well with teeth. Undamaged enamel is often removed with the decayed tooth when metallic fillings are applied. This is not the case with porcelain, as the material clings tightly to teeth.
- Prevents Bacteria Buildup – Because porcelain fits and bonds so well with natural teeth, there are no gaps that allow saliva and germs to seep into cavities where they can do more damage. When paired with good brushing and eating habits many additional dental problems can be avoided with porcelain fillings.
- High Durability – Porcelain is known for its durability in dental applications. Crowns and veneers which can last for decades are made from this same material because of its ability to withstand the force of biting and grinding. You can expect the same when you opt to use it for fillings. Porcelain can take a lot of abuse before showing any signs of wear.
- Mercury-Free – although the mercury in amalgam fillings is deemed harmless by the FDA many are still uncomfortable with continued exposure to this material.
Porcelain fillings may be more expensive than metallic fillings but the advantages of porcelain outweigh the added cost in all instances.
It’s always best to contact a respected dentist for a professional recommendation.