Tooth decay can often lead to cavities, or eroded areas within the tooth. Leaving the cavity open can expose the interior of the tooth to more bacteria, which can cause more decay over time. Some cavities are also deep enough to expose the sensitive root structures within the tooth. This can lead to sensitivity to hot and cold as well as a painful pressure when trying to chew.
Thankfully, dental fillings are an easy and routine method of treating cavities. The dentist simply places an artificial material into the hole or crack to seal it up and prevent bacteria from entering. There are several different materials that can be used in a filling, but not all of them will match your natural teeth. Here are three dental filling options that will:
1. Composite Resin
A composite resin filling contains a combination of small glass particles and a type of medical-safe plastic. The filling material placed into the cavity is somewhat soft. Your dentist will apply it, then use a special light to harden the material. This essentially bonds the tooth and resin for a natural feel and for durability.
Composite resin tends to be the cheapest tooth-colored filling option. The application process is relatively painless and simple, but may require a couple of office visits so the dentist can properly layer the resin in a larger cavity. A potential downside is that the shrinking process can accidentally cause the filling to pull away from the tooth instead of bonding. This can cause a hard-to-see gap that can nevertheless allow bacteria into the tooth to worsen the cavity.
2. Ceramic Porcelain
Often simply called ceramics, this type of filling is typically made of porcelain. Dentists are able to better match the porcelain to your teeth than the composite resin, though it might not be a noticeable difference if you aren't prone to tooth staining. Resin, however, is more likely to show stains from coffee and cigarettes than porcelain fillings.
The trade-off for the more attractive cosmetic appearance is a less durable composition. Porcelain is more prone to breakage than resin, though if it's treated well it can outlast the stronger material. Try not to bite on anything excessively hard like a frozen candy bar using the porcelain-filled tooth.
3. Glass Ionomer
Another type of resin filling, glass ionomer is made from a specific chemical found in glass combined with acrylic. This specialized combination goes in soft and is hardened with a light. This type of filling is overall weaker than composite resin. The main advantage to glass ionomer is the material's ability to produce fluoride, which will help maintain the health of the surrounding teeth's enamel.
For more information about filling materials, visit a local dentist like Blundell Dental.