When do dentists use porcelain fillings?

Dentists use a number of materials to fill teeth, including silver (or amalgam), resin, gold or porcelain. Porcelain sometimes is used for a type of dental filling called an inlay.

The porcelain itself is a non-crystalline glass composed of oxygen and silicon. It often is the restoration material of choice for people who place extremely high value on the appearance of their teeth because it has the advantage of being highly aesthetic.

Unfortunately, porcelain also has the disadvantage of being brittle and can be broken easily. It is also very technique sensitive,meaning it is a difficult procedure and bad fittings can occur. The process requires two dental visits to place the filling and porcelain costs significantly more than amalgam or resin fillings. Porcelain also can cause accelerated wear of the opposing tooth when biting.

Your dentist may use porcelain for larger fillings or an inlay, a filling on the surface of the tooth. Porcelain inlays generally look better and often last longer than regular fillings. Your dentist may also use porcelain fillings because they don't weaken the original tooth as much as other fillings do. Talk to your dentist about porcelain fillings as an treatment option.

Porcelain or ceramic fillings are used in areas that are under great chewing pressure, or they could be used as an alternative to a crown. Watch dental expert Gerry Curatola, DDS, describe how they are used and how they differ from other fillings.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.