Filling Materials

What is the best material to fix my tooth?

There is no artificial material that is a good as natural enamel and tooth structure. Mother Nature’s work is the best! If you do need dental repairs, we offer a variety of materials. We will consider your needs and priorities when we recommend the best material for you. Following are the most useful materials:

  • Amalgam (“silver”) fillings – Amalgam is still one of the most durable, economical restorative material for filling back teeth that we have available, but like any material, is not perfect. Modern technology has developed a method of bonding the amalgam to the tooth, which appears to improve the seal of the tooth to the filling. You may be one of the many people who have concerns about the controversy regarding dental amalgam. Dental amalgam is one of the most widely studied of all dental materials. It has been used for over 100 years, and despite the fact that amalgam fillings contain up to 50% mercury, no clear link between the presence of dental amalgam and any distinct health problem has been discovered.
  • Composite (“white”) fillings – These materials are much newer than amalgam, and have not been subject to as intense a scrutiny as amalgam. Their advantages are that they are tooth-colored, do not contain mercury, and the bond to enamel is much stronger than that of bonded amalgam. They are more difficult & time consuming to place well and large white fillings may not last as long as amalgam in areas of chewing stress. For small fillings, composite is generally the best choice. Some major dental benefit plans do not cover the higher fee for composite fillings in back teeth, paying only the equivalent fee for amalgam.
  • Cast gold – Gold is possibly one of the most biocompatible  of the commonly used dental restorative materials, and has the longest track record of durability. Although cast gold restorations are more costly and take more time to place than “fillings”, they last a long, long time! Some dental benefit plans cover only the equivalent fee for an amalgam or composite filling, and others will reimburse up to 100% for a gold crown. The disadvantages of gold include the length of time required to do the restoration, its “unnatural” appearance, and the cost.
  • Ceramics – New types of ceramic inlays, onlays, crowns and veneers are available now, and they are extremely natural looking. Their disadvantages include increased cost and reduced durability relative to some other materials. For strength, ceramic can be bonded to gold or titanium alloys. Ceramics are especially useful for cosmetic dentistry, and can help create beautiful smiles. The fees and dental insurance coverage for these restorations vary widely.

A Note Regarding Dental Insurance: If you have a dental benefit plan and you chose a treatment which is not fully covered by your policy, you are responsible for any shortfall in your dental coverage. If you are not sure exactly what your policy covers, we can try to help you to understand it, or we can send an estimate of the treatment you have chosen to your plan in order to be sure exactly what your coverage is.

This is a very brief overview of choices for restoring your tooth. I would like to discuss what is important to you when deciding on your best restorative option.

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