Until recently, silver and mercury was the only substance available to fill and seal cavities, but they could weakened teeth because of the amount of original tooth that had to be removed. Thankfully, the arrival of composite fillings provided a strong, safe and more natural-looking alternative.
Composite fillings are composed of a soft white plastic substance that includes a hardening agent and comes in a range of shades that can be matched closely to the colour of an individual’s teeth. Although they are a little more expensive than traditional restorations, most dental insurance covers the cost of composite fillings up to the price of the silver and mercury fillings. Once in place, a clear covering is placed over the new filling to prevent future staining. Composite fillings typically last three to twelve years, depending on the location of the restoration, an individual’s occlusion (or bite), and several other factors.
Inlays, on the other hand, are stronger and last longer than regular fillings and can be made from gold, porcelain, glass or a composite material. They are usually used for back teeth and large repairs to front teeth, and are custom-made to fit inside the tooth exactly. An accurate impression is taken of the affected tooth and its surrounding teeth and, once constructed, the inlay is placed in its final position using bonding cement.