Just found out you need a dental filling? Be ready for a serious outlay of cash if you are in the U.S. The high cost of care is one of the reasons so many Americans put off dental work.
The price of a perfect smile varies from place to place. It all depends on where you live, whether you have dental insurance, and what your dentist decides to charge. Fillings are some of the lowest priced dental interventions practiced, but range in price depending on the materials used.
Costa Rica dental fillings are a great way to save on the high cost of U.S. dental restorations. You can expect the same high-quality fillings as the U.S., with qualified dentists for less.
Read on to learn more!
Fixing Decayed and Damaged Teeth
The earliest evidence of dental fillings is in a 13,000-year-old set of incisors. That’s right, people have been filing teeth since the early Ice Age. Today’s dentistry is much less brutal.
Modern-day dentists remove the decayed portion of the tooth. Then, depending on the damage, fill in (filling) or cover (crown) the tooth to restore the chewing area. Restorations can also repair cracked or broken teeth or abnormally worn teeth.
The modern process is simple. Your dentist will numb the area around the tooth then remove the decayed area with a laser, air abrasion or drill. The area will be cleaned and decay completely removed.
Depending on the filling material, your dentist may then smooth the edge of the area to be filled, then use a lining material to protect the nerve before filling in the hole. A special light may be used to cure the layers if your dentist uses composite resin.
Once the area is filled, the excess materials are trimmed. The surface is then finished and polished.
Costa Rica Dental Fillings: What Types of Filling Materials are Available?
Modern dentistry offers many choices for dental restorations. Teeth can be filled with composite resins, porcelain, gold, or even the silver amalgam you remember as a kid. The location of the damage and extent of the decay will help your dentist recommend the right type of filling for your needs.
Each type of material has certain advantages and disadvantages, including cost, longevity and aesthetic appeal. Discuss your options with your dentist. Some restorations favor certain materials over others.
The most common and popular material is a tooth colored-composite resin.
Composite Resin Fillings
- Color can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth
- Bonds to tooth structure to reinforce teeth
- Versatile and can be used on many tooth surfaces
- Does not require as much drilling and preparation as other types of fillings
- Suited for use in front teeth or visible parts of teeth
Composite resin fillings are a several step process. Layers of materials are placed in the hole to mimic natural tooth layering. Disadvantages of composite resins include staining from coffee or tobacco or chipping from hard substances.
Be prepared for about 45 minutes in the dentist’s chair to restore one tooth. Resin fillings can last 3-10 years. Prices for these types of fillings are $50-70 for front teeth and around $10 more for back teeth.
Silver Amalgam Fillings
- Ugly contrasting color to teeth
- Expands and contracts in teeth, often causing small fractures and sensitivity
- Strong and durable, able to withstand chewing forces
- Requires more drilling than composites
- Contains mercury
Amalgam fillings are silver when they are new, but quickly take on a dull gray hue. They cost around $30-$60 but their aesthetic appeal is greatly inferior to tooth-colored composite resins.
If you have older mercury amalgam fillings at the end of their 10 to 15 year life, consider replacing them with tooth-colored composites. If the fillings are in good shape, however, removal is much harder and may not be warranted.
Be prepared for extensive drilling. Amalgam requires a much more prepared tooth surface than a resin filling. Patients with metal allergies or with existing gold fillings should discuss the choice of amalgam with their dentist.
- Contrasting tooth color, although some people prefer the look
- Long-lasting material, 10 years or more
- Very expensive, based on the market price of gold
- Requires two or more visits
Gold is a filling material with a long history, but other materials have greatly surpassed the performance of gold fillings. Gold is heavy and can contribute to irregular tooth wear, leave teeth sensitive to temperature and is glaringly obvious.
Porcelain Inlays and Overlays
These really aren’t fillings. Porcelain inlays and overlays attach to the outside of the tooth and have a great appearance. They used to restore teeth too decayed for a simple filling, but not so badly gone as to need a full crown.
Overlays and inlays are not as durable to biting forces as other types of restorations. However, they can last up to 20 years with proper care. They must be custom sculpted for each tooth.
Porcelain runs in the $400-500 range, which seems expensive until you compare it to the nearly $2,000 cost in the U.S. Porcelain requires molds to be taken for shaping and then bonding. , so expect two visits.
Choosing Your Filling Materials
The vast majority of patients choose tooth-colored composites for aesthetic reasons. Advanced composite resins have several advantages over metal amalgam. Use of composites tends to preserve more tooth than filling with amalgam.
Prices for tooth-colored composites is very close to that of silver amalgam and the results are superior. If cost is your only criteria, silver amalgam is industry standard. Gold fillings and porcelain inlays are expensive but may be preferable to some people for looks or longevity.
Discuss your choices with your dentist. Costa Rica dental fillings include all the materials you would expect in the U.S., plus some more options you may have overlooked due to cost. Make your appointment today!