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Tooth Fillings

What are fillings?

Teeth that have been affected by tooth decay (caries or cavities) require a filling. There are many different types of fillings, including:

  • dental amalgams
    Dental amalgams, also known as silver fillings, are comprised of a mixture of mercury (45 to 50 percent), and an alloy of silver, tin, and copper (50 to 55 percent). When it is combined with other materials in dental amalgam, mercury's chemical nature changes and it is no longer considered harmful to the body. However, it is important to note that there is a great deal of controversy surrounding the safety of this type of dental amalgam within the medical community. Consult your physician for more information regarding dental amalgams.
  • composite resins
    Also know as white fillings, a composite resin is a tooth-colored plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide) that is used primarily for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.

Other alternatives to restoring damaged or decayed teeth:

  • porcelain veneers - a ceramic material is bonded to the front of teeth to change the tooth's color, size, and/or shape.
  • crown - a "cap" that covers a cracked or broken tooth, unfixed by a filling, to approximate its normal size and shape.
  • cast gold restorations - this type of restoration is often more costly and may require more than one dental fitting.

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