While metal fillings were once the norm for fixing cavities, they are becoming less common for many reasons. Not only are they unsightly, but metal fillings can damage healthy tooth tissue, cause sensitivity to heat/cold, and cause allergic reaction in people with sensitivities to metal.
If you have metal fillings, it may be time to consider replacing or hiding them with alternative options. Whether you're sick of the side effects of metal fillings or you want a more attractive smile, check out these four options to hide or replace metal fillings.
1. Tooth-Colored Fillings
Tooth-colored fillings are a common way to completely replace metal fillings with composite resin fillings. One advantage to choosing composite resin is that it can bond to teeth, unlike metal. This bonding helps create a strong hold.
Unfortunately, the material itself is not as durable as metal, so you'll need to replace tooth-colored fillings more often, but they should last five years or more. Unlike metal, composite resign isn't as damaging to healthy tooth tissue, and it doesn't irritate gums as much as metal.
Tooth-colored fillings are more expensive than metal fillings, but your insurance may pay for toothcolored fillings on front teeth. On back teeth, however, the insurance carrier may only cover the cost of metal fillings.
2. Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are another option, and they can be made from composite resin or ceramic/porcelain. However, unlike tooth-colored fillings, which are applied and shaped by the dentist, inlays and onlays are usually made in a lab. They are then bonded to teeth to protect after decay.
Inlays are usually used to replace just the filling or fill in the hole from a cavity. Onlays, on the other hand, are larger; they cover the hole left by the old filling or cavity, but they also cover some of the tooth's chewing surface. For this reason, onlays are common on back teeth, which need to be stronger to withstand chewing. Your insurance may reimburse some of the cost.
3. Porcelain Dental Crowns
Depending on the size of the filling, a dental crown may be recommended. At our office, the filling can be removed and the tooth rebuilt. The tooth is then covered with a dental crown to strengthen and protect the weakened tooth.
Porcelain dental crowns are a great choice if you have large metal fillings or many metal fillings on one tooth because so many metal fillings can drastically weaken teeth. Metal crowns are more durable, but porcelain dental crowns provide a more attractive solution because they also make teeth look great.
On back teeth, however, your dentist will likely recommend porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns, which are more durable than all-porcelain dental crowns. Your insurance may pay some cost of porcelain dental crowns if your teeth need them.
4. Porcelain Veneers
Porcelain veneers are a similar option to dental crowns, but they don't strengthen weak teeth, and they can only be used on front teeth. With porcelain veneers, the front of your teeth are filed down and replaced with thin porcelain shells or veneers. These veneers can instantly give you a beautiful smile, but like dental crowns, they are permanent.
Porcelain veneers aren't usually covered by insurance because they are cosmetic. You may want to consider porcelain veneers if you have some small metal fillings along with other cosmetic concerns (chips, cracks, discoloration, etc.).
Don't let metal fillings affect your self-confidence or cause any more damage to your healthy teeth. Many patients are unhappy with their smiles, but if you have metal fillings, there are many alternatives to give you a more beautiful smile.
At Jay A. Hollander, DDS, you're sure to get the caring attention you and your entire family deserve. If you would like to know more about replacing your metal fillings, contact our friendly and helpful staff at your earliest convenience.