When most people think of a filling, they think of a cavity. A dental restoration can replace tooth structure for any cause. That can be dental decay, trauma to the tooth, dental erosion (acid wear) or attrition due to grinding (bruxism). Most dental fillings nowadays are made of composite, which is a white filling material. Although not as strong as the metal type of filling, it is a lot nicer looking and cosmetic appearance is important. It is still quite strong and able to withstand normal chewing forces for many years. The larger a filling gets, the weaker it gets and also the weaker the tooth becomes.
White fillings can be used for different purposes. A runny, flowable version can be used to seal the fissures in the tooth. This is a preventive treatment called a fissure sealant. A high shine and natural appearance is more important for front teeth, so often a different white filling material is used than at the back where a more hardwearing composite is favourable. There is a range of white fillings that are more resistant to decay and help protect the tooth, rather than just fill it. These are called Glass Ionomers and sometimes they can be layered with the stronger composite, or sometimes combined. A preventive resin restoration is an optional filling where the tooth has early decay, but has not yet formed a cavity. Removing the decay before the cavity forms can prevent a large filling later.
Metallic fillings are still available, but used less often due to their poor appearance. In some circumstances, though their increased strength is needed. Every time your dentist does a filling for you, they take into account the appearance, longevity, antibacterial effect and your preferences and risk factors. There is no one size fits all approach to customised dental treatment and your dentist will discuss options and costs with you. Fillings range in cost from $140 to $260 depending on the material selected and the size, shape and difficulty. We will issue a quote for you to let you know costs in advance.