So you have decay in a tooth – what’s the best filling. Well it depends on cost, cosmetics, how big the filling is, and how well you look after your teeth. The longest lasting filling you can have is usually a gold inlay- it doesn’t rust/corrode or chip/break. It costs more in the short term so if you have a high decay rate, bad diet, poor hygiene or underlying dental disease risk then the cost may not be worth it, but it is still the best. My father had a couple in his mouth for forty years, and I have one at 15years in my mouth and it looks brand new! It has a second big drawback – it isn’t white.
Tooth coloured fillings are getting better all the time, but they need great care to be placed well, and many studies have shown an average lifespan of 7-9 years. Sure, I’ve seen them hold up well, but when placed meticulously, and in mouths where they are well looked after. Tooth coloured fillings (or composite resins) that I see often have leaking margins, decay underneath, or they are chipped or worn after only a few years. They work well, just don’t expect not to replace them more frequently.
The other option is old fashioned amalgam fillings. I don’t do them very often anymore, but I still regularly see patients of my fathers with 15-40 year old fillings. Amalgam has a couple of big disadvantages – corrosion and swelling leads to cracks and sometimes teeth split apart and are unsavable. It contains mercury and although studies show this to be a minimal amount and not a health risk people have concerns (nobody asks me what’s in a tooth coloured filling by the way 🙂 Personally, I wouldn’t ever have an amalgam in my mouth – but I wouldn’t have a tooth coloured filling either if it was in between a back tooth.
It is always about risk – brush well 2mins twice per day, floss nightly, see your dentist 6 monthly, eat sensibly and avoid lots of snacking – works for me – 38 yesterday and only 2 fillings – the choice is yours
happy days – Marc