Types of fillings
Not every filling is the same. Different materials can perform different functions, look different and will last for different lengths of time.
Some are state-of-the-art in materials science technology. Others have been honed and developed gradually over 150 years of constant use! :
Composite is the most commonly used tooth-coloured direct filling material.
Nowhere in dentistry has the rate of advance in technology been more apparent than in the science of dental composites. Developed from single-colour materials that suffered from excessive wear 30 years ago, today’s highly advanced materials can exactly mimic the appearance of your tooth and are incredibly tough and long lasting.
Composites are bonded into your tooth using state-of-the-art adhesive technology which can actually help to support the remaining tooth structure. Many people now have dental composites used for their fillings and it is often the case that when your old, grey dental amalgams need replacing we can use composite instead to restore the appearance of your teeth.
At the front and back of your mouth dental composites can be the ideal choice. At Space Healthcare we use state-of-the-art products: extremely hard-wearing composites in back teeth that are placed using ultrasonic energy, and supremely life-like aesthetic composites for your front teeth.
This remarkable tooth-coloured filling material has the ability to bond to your tooth and can also release small amounts of fluoride once it has been placed.
Glass ionomer technology is a British success story. Invented in the early 1970’s in the UK, it has since been continually modified, and now exists in some forms that are very similar to composites.
This is useful for people who have a high risk of tooth decay. Glass ionomer is not usually used as a permanent filling as it wears too easily, but it is a really useful material to use for temporary fillings or to repair your tooth while you decide what permanent choice to have
A grey metallic material which contains mercury, amalgam is tough and long lasting, but very unattractive due to its colour and also of concern to many people due to its mercury content. Over the years, many millions of teeth across the world have been restored with amalgam, and it has proved to be cost-effective, versatile and safe. However, it has been recognised for a long time that some forms of mercury and its compounds can be toxic, and this potential hazard has been a cause of controversy for as long as amalgam has been in use. Many academic studies have been published in an attempt to prove, one way or another, whether the mercury in amalgam can cause harm. However, a recent review, carried out for the Scientific Committee of the European Commission, looked at all the evidence concerning the health effects and the possible effects on the environment. It’s conclusion was that amalgam continues to be safe for use.
Read or download a copy of the report, to find out more about the latest science:
Despite the conclusions from scientific assessment that amalgam is a safe and useful material, a more significant reason for us to reduce its use is a concern for the environment.
Dental amalgam is the second biggest use for mercury in the EU. In reality, dental amalgam has a tiny impact when compared to the main, industrial uses of mercury compounds (for example, in electrical equipment such as batteries and lamps, and in the chemical production of chlorine gas and sodium hydroxide). However, at Space Healthcare we take these issues very seriously, and we are committed to doing our best to minimise any potential environmental impact from our work. So we work with strict controls over the storage of amalgam, we use especially designed amalgam removal technology to make sure no waste escapes into the drains and we use very careful procedures to ensure that when we remove an old amalgam restoration from your tooth all the material is safely collected.
Another significant problem with amalgam is that it can expand and contract in the tooth due to temperature changes. Some research suggests that this can contribute to the development of fractures and cracks in teeth restored with amalgam.
With the advent of high quality tooth-coloured composite fillings, amalgam usage is now declining.
Read or download our summary of the 2013 Minamata Convention on Mercury, to find out more about the future of amalgam: