Fun Facts About Fillings


Dental fillings are a part of our everyday lives here at Shane McDowell Dentistry in Fort Myers. Left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain, infection and tooth loss. And for many of our patients who come in with tooth decay, simple fillings generally resolve the cavity. But if you have ever wondered what exactly goes into the dental filling and how many options there are, we thought it would be good to shed some light on fun facts about fillings from the American Dental Association.

Deciding which type of filling can come down to a few factors: money, time, and expectations. There are many types of fillings, as well as advantages and disadvantages for each. Below are some details you may find interesting about your options:

  • Amalgam – dental amalgam is a mix of approximately 43 – 54% mercury combined with other metals including silver, copper and tin.

  • Fun fact: Commonly called “silver fillings” because of their silver color, amalgam is one of the oldest filling materials and has been used for more than 150 years!

  • Advantage: Can be placed in one visit and are strong and durable.

  • Disadvantage: Amalgam can darken over time as it corrodes which does not affect the function of the filling, but looks less attractive than tooth-colored materials.

  • Composite (resin) – Composite is a mix of acrylic resin and powdered glass-like particles that produce a tooth-color filling.

  • Fun fact: Composite is used for fillings, inlays and veneers. They are especially popular for fixing chipped or broken teeth because they are tooth-colored.

  • Advantage: Color shading can be matched to existing tooth.

  • Disadvantage: Can be a little more time-consuming to place.

  • Glass Ionomer – Glass ionomers tooth-colored materials made of a mixture of acrylic acids with fine glass powders that are used to fill cavities.

  • Fun fact: Glass-ionomer materials became available in the late 20th century and belong to a class of material referred to as acid-based cements, which set very quickly.

  • Advantage: Usually completed in a single visit and are tooth-colored to look more natural.

  • Disadvantage: As it ages, this material may become rough and plaque can build up increasing the risk of gum disease.

  • Resin Ionomer – Also made from glass filler with acrylic acids and acrylic resins. Resin ionomers are most commonly used in fillings on non-chewing surfaces and fillings in the primary (baby) teeth.

  • Fun fact: They harden with exposure to blue light.

  • Advantage: Tooth-colored and can contain fluoride that may help prevent further decay

  • Disadvantage: Limited use and wears faster than composite and amalgam fillings.

  • Porcelain (ceramic) – All-porcelain materials include porcelain, ceramic or glass-like fillings and crowns. Porcelain fused to metal is another application for this material.

  • Fun fact: Porcelain fillings became popular in the United States in the early 1800s, right around the time the American Dental Association was formed.

  • Advantage: Great resistance to further decay, they are tooth-colored and have excellent translucency.

  • Disadvantage: May not be recommended for molars because they can be brittle and prone to cracking with biting force.

At Shane McDowell Dentistry we are here to help you with any questions or concerns that you may have with your oral health. If you’d like to get “filled in” on filling options or want to schedule your next appointment at our Fort Myers practice, please call 239-936-0597 or visit www.myfortmyersdentist.com/appointment today.

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