Fillings are used to seal cavities and replace decayed parts of a tooth

Tooth decay is caused by a combination of too much sugar in our diet, along with poor dental hygiene. The progress of decay can be rapid and only visible on an x-ray initially, which is why we suggest regular check-ups with our dentist, to spot any damage early on and advise on preventive measures. Once a hole ‘cavity’ develops in the tooth as a result of decay, a filling will be required.

There are a number of different types of filling materials, which we have at our disposal, each with a different role:

  • Amalgam (silver coloured)
  • Composite or white fillings (tooth coloured)
  • Glass ionomer (tooth coloured)

Amalgam fillings

This is the well-established, traditional and inexpensive way to repair teeth. They are made by combining mercury and a silver alloy (50% mercury, 35% silver, and 15% tin, copper and other metals) and are long lasting and hard wearing. It is not uncommon for an amalgam filling to last over 20 years. This makes it a highly cost effective way to restore the structure and functionality of teeth, particularly the less visible back ones.

The mercury in dental amalgam is not harmful once it is combined with the other alloy materials in the filling, its chemical nature changing making it perfectly safe. This type of filling has been used for over 180 years, so it has been tried and tested on millions of mouths.

Do amalgam fillings still have a place?

At Cwmbran Dental Care, we would prefer to give you white fillings, because they are indistinguishable from the colour of your own teeth. There is a world wide move away from mercury in the environment, so we find ourselves placing far less amalgam fillings than we used to, driven partially by environmental concerns and patient pressure.

However amalgam fillings still have a place and their benefits mean that they will continue to be placed for some time yet.


What’s involved in having a filling?

Looking after your amalgam filled tooth

Providing your diet is not high in sugar, causing more tooth decay and your hygiene routine is good, then amalgam fillings can last for years.

Composite fillings

Composite fillings are tooth coloured and are therefore extremely popular. They are strong, but may not be as hard wearing as amalgam fillings. Composite fillings are made from glass beads, mixed in a resin base.

Glass ionomer fillings

Glass ionomers are tooth coloured fillings which form a chemical link with the tooth, so little or no preparation is needed as the filling bonds directly onto the tooth. This type of filling is fairly weak and because of this, they are usually only used on baby teeth or around the ‘necks’ of the teeth.

Their other main advantage is that they release fluoride, which helps to prevent further tooth decay, making them ideally suitable for children and elderly patients with dry mouths, both groups having a higher risk of tooth decay.

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  • Are amalgam fillings safe?

    Yes, amalgam fillings are perfectly safe. When in alloy form with other metals, mercury is not harmful and has been used in this way for many years. If you are concerned, we recommend choosing composite or glass ionomer fillings instead.

  • Can I eat straight away following a filling?

    Composite fillings set immediately, so you are able to eat as normal as soon as you have left the practice. As you may still be numb from the local anaesthetic, you may wish to wait a couple of hours, or chew on the other side of your mouth, but this is not a requirement. It is also best to chew on the opposite side of your amalgam filling for the first day or so, to give it the chance to fully set.

  • Will it hurt to have a filling placed?

    Having a filling shouldn’t be painful. We use local anaesthetic to minimise any discomfort, and ensure you are relaxed and fully numb in the affected area before beginning your filling treatment.

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Cwmbran Dental Care
19a Caradoc Road,
NP44 1PP
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Call us: 01633 877618