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When it comes to dental health, one of the common procedures that many people undergo is filling cavities. However, there are various types of materials used in dental fillings, and this guide will explore whether cavity fillings are black, the reasons behind the color, and the alternatives available.
What are Cavity Fillings?
Cavity fillings are a dental procedure where a dentist removes the decayed portion of a tooth and fills the area where the decayed material was removed. Fillings are also used to repair cracked or broken teeth and teeth that have been worn down from misuse.
Purpose of Cavity Fillings
The primary purpose of dental fillings is to restore the integrity and function of the tooth. By removing the decay and filling the cavity, the dentist helps to prevent further decay by closing off any cracks or spaces where bacteria can enter.
Are Cavity Fillings Black?
Amalgam fillings, commonly known as silver fillings, have been used for over 150 years in hundreds of millions of patients. These fillings are made from a combination of metals including mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Over time, amalgam fillings can darken and sometimes appear black. The discoloration is often due to corrosion and tarnishing. Some individuals also notice that their tooth has a grayish hue to it because of the amalgam filling underneath.
Composite fillings are made from a resin composed of acrylic plastics and fine glass particles. These fillings are tooth-colored and are used not only for restoring decay, but also for cosmetic improvements by changing the color or reshaping disfigured teeth. These fillings do not turn black over time.
Gold fillings are made from gold, and while they do not turn black, they are noticeable due to their color. Gold is generally considered the most durable filling material, but also the most expensive.
Glass Ionomer Fillings
Glass ionomer fillings are made from acrylic and a specific type of glass material. These fillings are tooth-colored and are typically used for small cavities, or cavities below the gum line. Like composite fillings, these don’t turn black.
Porcelain fillings are generally called inlays or onlays and are custom made in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the color of the tooth, and resist staining.
What to Do if a Filling Turns Black?
If you notice that one of your fillings has turned black or is causing the tooth to appear discolored, it is important to see a dentist. The dentist can evaluate the filling and determine whether it needs to be replaced. When choosing a filling, there are several factors to consider such as cost, how the filling will look, and the location of the filling. It’s important to discuss these factors with your dentist, as they can provide recommendations based on your specific case.
Amalgam fillings are the type that can appear black or darken over time, while other materials like composite resin, glass ionomer, and porcelain are designed to match the color of your teeth. If you have concerns about the appearance of your fillings or are in need of a new filling, discuss the options with your dentist to choose the material that is best suited for your preferences and dental health needs.
This Q&A series article is complete and was published on July 20, 2023, and last updated on July 20, 2023.