Fillings are used to repair a cavity in your tooth caused by decay. The most common type of filling is dental amalgam, made from a mixture of mercury and different metals. Dental amalgam fillings are often used on your back teeth as they are hard-wearing.
Your dentist will offer you the type of filling most appropriate for your clinical (medical) needs. This may include a tooth-coloured (white) filling. For example, if you need a filling for one of your front teeth, your dentist may suggest a tooth-coloured filling, but the use of tooth coloured fillings on back teeth is considered purely cosmetic.
Fillings on the NHS can be made of:
- amalgam (silver-coloured): (as shown in the picture to the right) a mixture of metals including mercury, silver, tin and copper
- composite (tooth-coloured): powdered glass and ceramic added to a resin base, they’re not as hard-wearing as amalgam fillings
- glass ionomer (tooth-coloured): powdered glass, which reacts chemically with your tooth and bonds to it, but it is weak so is only used on baby (first) teeth or around
Why should I consider white fillings?
Most people have fillings of one sort or another in their mouths. Nowadays fillings are not only functional, but can be natural looking as well. Many people don’t want silver fillings that show when they laugh or smile because they are more conscious about the way they look.
Are white fillings expensive?
Because many white fillings are classed as a cosmetic treatment, you can only have them done privately. So costs can vary quite a lot from dentist to dentist. Costs usually depend on the size and type of white filling used and the time it takes to complete the treatment. You can get an idea of the costs of white fillings by viewing our private price list here: private price list ndc 2015.
Are white fillings as good as silver amalgam fillings?
White fillings have always been considered less long lasting than silver amalgam fillings. But there are now new materials available with properties comparable to silver amalgam, and these are proving to be very successful. The life expectancy of a white filling can depend greatly on where it is in your mouth and how heavily your teeth come together when you bite.
Is it worth replacing my amalgam fillings with white ones?
It is usually best to change fillings only when our dentist decides that an old filling needs replacing. If so you can ask to have it replaced in a tooth-coloured material. However you can always request a replacement for cosmetic reasons.
What are tooth-coloured fillings made of?
This can vary, but they are mainly made of glass particles, synthetic resin and a setting ingredient. Our dentist should be able to give you more information about the particular material they use.
Where can I get white fillings done?
Most dental practices offer white fillings as a normal part of the treatment they give you.
Are there any alternatives to fillings?
Adhesive dentistry is another form of this treatment. This involves bonding the filling to the tooth. The dentist has to remove less of the tooth, which is obviously better.
As we have already said, there are alternatives such as crowns and inlays although they can cost a lot more. Veneers can be used on front teeth instead of crowns or fillings.