How to Protect Your Teeth

Your First Filling: Choosing The Most Durable, Safe, And Attractive Material To Use

Getting a cavity cleaned and filled in can help protect your tooth from dangerous bacteria. If you've never had a filling before, you might not be familiar with the benefits and risks associated with the various filler material options. If you're still questioning which kind of filling is best for your teeth, maybe you can find the answer here.

Which Fillings Last The Longest?

If longevity is your main concern when choosing a filling, you have three popular options to consider:

Gold: This classic filling material has fallen out of favor with most patients due to its high cost. Still, fillings made from gold can last as long as 15 years without corroding, chipping, or deforming.

Silver amalgam: Significantly cheaper than gold fillings, silver amalgam ones can also last up to 15 years. Some patients prefer not to use them due to the black color they take on after a year or two of wear.

Ceramic: The longest-lasting of all filling types, ceramics cost around the same as gold, but will outlast both kinds of metal filling. The abrasiveness of these fillings can be a problem in patients who grind their teeth, however.

Can You Get Fillings That Look And Feel Natural?

While ceramics look natural initially, their color will stay virtually the same for as long as you have them. This means if your teeth get darker or you have them whitened, your ceramic fillings will stand out more obviously. 

Patients who want fillings that will continue to blend in for years after placement will likely be best served by composite resin fillings. These last only 5 years, but are the stealthiest of fillings, which makes them ideal for fixing front teeth. If your teeth are whitened or stained, the resin fillings should shift in color to match.

What Are The Risks Of Having Fillings Placed?

Most patients don't experience any complications with their fillings, but it's good to know what might happen in the worst case. Specific risks depend on the type of filling you choose.

Gold and silver fillings, for example, are subject to thermal expansion when you eat very hot foods. This presents a chance for your tooth to be cracked if the filling expands too quickly. Patients who are allergic to mercury should avoid silver amalgam fillings, though having an allergic reaction is rare. Generally, improperly placed fillings can cause pain when biting, as well.

Choosing a filling material is a long-term commitment, so it's important to take your time before deciding. If you still feel unsure, talk to your dentist like Ginger Scoggins DDS about what kind of filling will best fit your needs.