Dental Health and Tooth Fillings
Tooth-colored Composites continued...
Disadvantages of composites:
- Lack of durability -- composite fillings wear out sooner than amalgam fillings (lasting at least five years compared with at least 10 to 15 for amalgams); in addition, they may not last as long as amalgam fillings under the pressure of chewing and particularly if used for large cavities.
- Increased chair time -- because of the process to apply the composite material, these fillings can take up to 20 minutes longer than amalgam fillings to place.
- Additional visits -- if composites are used for inlays or onlays, more than one office visit may be required.
- Chipping -- depending on location, composite materials can chip off the tooth.
- Expense -- composite fillings can cost up to twice the cost of amalgam fillings.
In addition to tooth-colored, composite resin fillings, two other tooth-colored fillings exist -- ceramics and glass ionomer.
Other Filling Types
Ceramics. These fillings are made most often of porcelain, are more resistant to staining than composite resin material but are also more abrasive. This material generally lasts more than 15 years and can cost as much as gold.
Glass ionomer is made of acrylic and a specific type of glass material. This material is most commonly used for fillings below the gum line and for fillings in young children (drilling is still required). Glass ionomers release fluoride, which can help protect the tooth from further decay. However, this material is weaker than composite resin and is more susceptible to wear and prone to fracture. Glass ionomer generally lasts five years or less with costs comparable to composite resin.
Does Dental Insurance Cover the Cost of Composites?
Most dental insurance plans cover the cost of the composite fillings up to the price of the silver filling, then the patient may have to pay the difference.
What Are Indirect Fillings?
Indirect fillings are similar to composite or tooth-colored fillings except they are made in a dental laboratory and require two visits before being placed. Indirect fillings are considered when not enough tooth structure remains to support a filling but the tooth is not so severely damaged that it needs a crown.