The most common type of filling used by dentists in the UK is dental amalgam, which is a mixture of different metals, including mercury, silver, tin and copper. This silver-colored amalgam is relatively inexpensive for patients and has a good clinical research record. The NHS now ensures that children only have white fillings, unless there is a clinical reason for having to place the amalgam, which the dentist must document. However, adults receiving NHS treatment are offered white fillings on their front teeth, but amalgam is placed on the back teeth. In most cases, the dentist will inject a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth.
They can also use an anesthetic gel on the gum to minimize discomfort caused by the injection itself. Amalgam fillings are the most affordable fillings available and are made of a mix of metals (including mercury) that can last for many years. However, amalgam fillings are often considered unattractive to the eye because they are silver in color and are easily seen when people open their mouths. Amalgam will discolor the tooth and, because it is much harder than the natural tooth, it eventually causes the tooth to fracture.
Amalgam has no chemical bond with the natural tooth structure, which again has a negative impact on the tooth in the long term. However, dentists still prefer to use amalgams on some molars that have been treated with endodontics. A number of other dental filling materials are currently available. Teeth can be filled with gold, porcelain, silver amalgam (consisting of mercury mixed with silver, tin, zinc, and copper), or with tooth-colored plastic and materials called composite resin fillings. There is also a material that contains glass particles and is known as a glass ionomer.This material is used in a similar way to composite resin fillings.
The price of a filling in the United Kingdom varies greatly depending on the size of the filling and the materials used by the dentist. Your dentist will remove the decayed area and no more. With a ceramic or gold filling, your dentist may need to reduce some of the healthy tooth structure to create an insertion path for placing the new ceramic filling. We also explain how different types of fillings work, what materials dentists use for them, how much an NHS filling costs and how much you can expect to pay with a private dentist. It's important to understand all your options when it comes to dental fillings so you can make an informed decision about your oral health.