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Dental Fillings

Almost all of us have had a cavity or some decay in a tooth. When the surface of the tooth has been compromised by acid-producing bacteria, then more bacteria can easily get into that space and the cavity size will increase. To avoid further damage to the tooth, the decayed portion is drilled out. Then a filling is inserted into the space where the decay was located.

The cost per filling may depend on the number of surfaces the dentist must fill. Our teeth have 5 surfaces – 4 sides and the top of the tooth. Most dentists have a fee for each surface of the tooth. Fillings are easier to place in the front teeth and more difficult to place in the back teeth. Because of this, some dentists charge more for fillings in the back teeth.

Because fillings are so common, the actual materials cost per filling is not large in most countries. It is the labour and business costs that make the difference. The charges for dentist’s time, charges for staff time for patient care and also for such tasks as standardized sterilization procedures, and pass-along costs for clinic overhead such as building expenses, together make up the biggest cost differences between countries. It is important to know whether the lowest quote also includes attention to high health and sterilization standards, because these procedures and equipment do cost time and money.

The filling is made of amalgam (metal) or composite.

Amalgam dental fillings are usually made from a gold alloy or other metal alloy. Some metals are tolerated better by our bodies and are called “noble”. Metal fillings are not as popular as they once were for a number of reasons: metal is a good heat conductor, so metal fillings are more sensitive to hot and cold. Metal fillings are not “lifelike”. Also, part of the metal alloy usually contains mercury, which can accumulate in our bodies. During the past 20 years, many people have chosen to replace their amalgam fillings with composite fillings.

However, amalgam fillings are stronger than composite, so they may be chosen to fill cavities in the rear teeth where biting force is stronger and appearance is not as important.

Composite dental fillings are made from glass or quartz crystals in a resin medium which hardens. The colour is tooth-like and can be matched to the patient’s tooth colour.