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Types And Costs Of Tooth Fillings In Singapore

Posted on 31 Jan 2018
Dr Huang Shiming
Dentist
Singapore
(8 Reviews)
Consult Doctor
FOLLOW

Dr Huang Shiming
Dentist
Singapore
(8 Reviews)
Posted on 31 Jan 2018
Consult Doctor

Everything you'd probably need to know about fillings, distilled into something less dry than a dental materials textbook!

But first, let me address the elephant in the room. This often escapes people, but they are called fillings, not filings. 2 "L"s. Why? Because we use them to fill things. There, easier to remember now I hope!

So, what's a dental filling?

Simply put, fillings are what we use to fill otherwise damaged and missing tooth structure.

This damage could be in the form of cavities due to tooth decay, or because of unnatural wear and tear of the tooth. Some dentists throw about the term “restoration” - they are essentially interchangeable.

Fillings help us to:

  1. Restore healthy tooth function
  2. Restore dental appearance (aesthetics)
  3. Relieve sensitivity by insulating otherwise exposed inner tooth structure
  4. Prevent further decay by sealing off empty space from bacterial entry

If we really go into it, this article could be hundreds of pages long, but you'd not really want to read that and my caffeine buzz will not last that long anyway.

For now, let's look at what dentists like to call direct restorations/direct fillings. As the term suggests, these fillings are placed directly into your tooth, and may be crafted completely freehand within your mouth.

Bearing in mind that there's no one size fits all (as with most things in life), different filling materials may of course be more suitable for different people.

The type of tooth filling that's most suitable for you depends primarily on these factors:

  • Where the filling is needed
  • How much repair is required for the decay
  • Your preference for how visible the filling is

Here are the 3 most common fillings you'll hear your dentist asking the nurse for when it's time to repair a tooth.

1. Metal fillings/silver fillings (amalgam restorations)

Silver filling cost Singapore

First up, good old Amalgam restorations. The grandaddy of fillings. Sometimes known as the “silver” filling.

This bad boy has been in popular use since the 1800s. It's essentially a metal alloy comprising varying percentages of silver, tin and copper.

Why we like them:

  1. Strong and highly durable, like a coat of medieval armour
  2. Ease of use, less technically demanding for the dentist to place
  3. Relatively low cost compared to other filling options

What you need to be mindful of:

  1. It doesn't take a person with high visual awareness to find this metallic filling unattractive
  2. Prone to tarnish and corrosion. The filling may darken over time, and sometimes also darken the surrounding structure of the tooth it's in
  3. Hardens slowly. This means careful chewing or dietary restrictions for the first 24 hours after a new amalgam filling
  4. Subjective health safety. With the Minamata Convention on Mercury, certain European nations are actually scaling down their use of dental amalgam. On the other hand, the US Food and Drug Administration and the American Dental Association regard dental amalgams as safe for use.

Where you may typically find one: At load bearing areas of posterior/back teeth eg. molars.

Silver fillings cost in Singapore: $50 - $300* (*Price range varies for all fillings as cost is dependant on location, size and difficulty of the filling)

Now for something a bit more fancy, we move on to the “White” fillings. Do note that teeth are not truly white, so when we say white filling, we actually mean something that's more tooth coloured.

2. Tooth coloured fillings - Glass ionomers

Composite fillings cost Singapore

More a baby boomer of the mid 1900s, we have the Glass Ionomers. As the name suggests, they are made largely of silicate glass powder.

Why we like them:

  1. Bonds well to dentine (the deeper layer of the tooth) and as such, can be used well in cavities lacking much enamel (the outer layer of the tooth)
  2. Less sensitive to moisture and saliva contamination, compared to some other filling materials and as such can be used in tricky or hard to reach locations.
  3. Helps to prevent tooth decay by releasing fluoride into surrounding areas for a prolonged period

Sounds like a miracle cure! Why don’t we use this for everything? Well..

What you need to be mindful of:

  1. Poor durability, it's prone to mechanical wear and tear
  2. Soluble over time in a wet environment such as the mouth
  3. Because of points 1 and 2, glass ionomer fillings require constant monitoring by your dentist with periodic reviews

Where you may typically find one: Non load-bearing areas that may be prone to saliva contamination eg. exposed root surfaces, or as a base layer underneath a stronger filling material (yes we do get creative and layer things sometimes!)

Glass ionomer composite filling cost in Singapore: $50 - $300

3. Tooth coloured fillings - Composite resin fillings

Composite resin filling cost Singapore

Now on to the millennials, we've got the Composite Resins, which became more popular in the late 1900s.

It's perhaps unfair to truly call them millennials, as they've been around considerably longer than that.

This “white” filling is a synthetic resin comprising of medical grade plastic and glass. Not as glamorous as it sounds, I know. Millennials.

What you need to be mindful of:

  1. Composite resins are very technique sensitive. Both in terms of handling by your dentist, and also due to moisture/saliva contamination. Postoperative sensitivity may sometimes occur due to improper placement of a composite resin filling
  2. Highly technical placement often means longer treatment time and higher cost of treatment
  3. They may stain or discolour over time, so proper home care is paramount to keeping them looking their best

Why we like them:

  1. As they are bonded to the tooth, there's no need to sacrifice otherwise healthy tooth structure, unlike in an amalgam filling
  2. Small defects to the filling over time can often be repaired without needing to replace the entire filling
  3. Highly aesthetic. With a wide range of composite resin translucency and colours, they can be the most closely matched to natural teeth, and can create the most life-like of all direct fillings.

Where you may typically find one: Anterior/front teeth, especially areas that are visible when smiling. They may range from tiny dots, to fillings large enough to cover the entire visible surface of a front tooth. That said, because of their versatility, you could really find them just about anywhere!

Resin composite filling cost in Singapore: $100 - $500


So now you know a bit more about the Big 3 and how they may impact you as a patient. Surprise your dentist with your knowledge the next time you're in the chair.

Just don’t go around asking them for a granddaddy, baby boomer and millennial because not every dentist may think of fillings the same way I do!

Dr Huang Shiming is a dental surgeon at TP Dental. Before joining TP Dental Surgeons as an Associate, he also headed dental clinics in public institutions as Dental Officer-in-charge. Outside of dentistry, Dr Shiming is an avid car enthusiast, unashamed adrenaline junkie and photography hobbyist.

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