Fillings in back teeth
Fillings are the most common way to restore broken or decayed back teeth. Teeth that have been damaged by decay can normally be repaired in this way so long as the damage is not too extensive.
Typically fillings in back teeth can be either silver (amalgam) or white (composite). Amalgam has been used successfully for many years, and may often be more suitable where the cosmetics are less of an issue. Although some concerns have been raised about the suitability of amalgam (which is an alloy of mercury and other metals), it is still recommended for use by the American Dental Association, the British Dental Association and the Irish Dental Association and has recieved continued approval from the FDA.
Composite white fillings can also be used to fill back teeth, and these have the advantages of improved appearance, and the ability to adhere to tooth structure. Composite materials are newer and less durable than amalgam, but through developments from ongoing research these white filling materials are continuing to improve.
We are happy to provide a range of treatment options, including amalgam, composite, porcelain and gold, depending on our patient’s wishes and clinical considerations.

Q & A

What are the benefits of white fillings?

Most people have fillings of one sort or another in their mouths. Nowadays fillings are not only functional, but can be natural looking as well. Many people don’t want silver fillings that show when they laugh or smile because they are more conscious about the way they look.

Are white fillings as good as silver amalgam fillings?

White fillings have always been considered less long lasting than silver amalgam fillings. But there are now new materials available with properties comparable to silver amalgam, and these are proving to be very successful. The life expectancy of a white filling can depend greatly on where it is in your mouth and how heavily your teeth come together when you bite. Your dentist can advise you on the life expectancy of your fillings.

Is it worth replacing my amalgam fillings with white ones?

It is usually best to change fillings only when your dentist decides that an old filling needs replacing. If so you can ask to have it replaced in a tooth-coloured material.

Some dentists prefer not to put white fillings in back teeth as they are not always successful. One way around this would be to use crowns or inlays, but this can mean removing more of the tooth and can be more expensive.

What are tooth-coloured fillings made of?

This can vary, but they are mainly made of glass particles, synthetic resin and a setting ingredient. Your dentist should be able to give you more information about the particular material they use.

Are there any alternatives to fillings?

Adhesive dentistry is another form of this treatment. This involves bonding the filling to the tooth. The dentist has to remove less of the tooth, which is obviously better.

Other alternatives are crowns or veneers. Veneers can be used on front teeth instead of crowns or fillings.