A filling is used to restore a tooth to its original shape and function. Fillings are only recommended when less than half of the tooth is decayed or missing. If more than half of the tooth is decayed or missing, a build-up and crown is recommended.
There are two basic types of fillings, amalgam fillings and composite resin fillings. Amalgam fillings are the old black fillings used in the past and contain mercury, silver and a host of other metals. While they hold up well, they do contribute to tooth fractures and breaks, due to thermal expansion and contraction caused by hot and cold foods and liquids. These fillings are slightly less expensive, however, they do create a higher risk of tooth fracture or breakage, therefore increasing the need for crowns.
Dr. Cornish prefers composite resin fillings. These fillings not only look nice, they actually bond to the tooth and are not subject to thermal expansion and contraction like amalgam fillings. These characteristics reduce the chance of tooth fracture and breakage, helping patients avoid or delay the need for crowns in the future.
As fillings age the margins or edges will begin to break down from the wear created by chewing and grinding forces exerted on the teeth. Studies have shown that half of the fillings over ten years old will have decay around them. Therefore it is recommended to replace old worn fillings before they break or fall out. This will often allow the patient to avoid or at least delay the need for crowning a tooth. We all know that fillings are much less expensive than crowns. As a cost effective preventive measure, Dr. Cornish will recommend that old worn fillings be replaced.