Dental fillings are a common treatment for dental decay. Previously, most dental fillings were composed mainly of "metal"(amalgam-silver) that do not match the color of natural teeth. Instead the fillings made the teeth appear dark or grey. Although these fillings were successfully used for over a hundred years, they never were considered aesthetic. Silver fillings are not bonded to teeth. This weakens the remaining tooth that surrounds the filling. We frequently see this weakened tooth breaking. Often the silver filling wear which results in gaps between the tooth and filling. This is a portal for bacteria to begin the decay process.
Fortunately today, dental fillings can be made of porcelain or composite materials that match the color of your teeth. This approach maintains the natural appearance of your teeth and smile. These white fillings are bonded in place which then increases the strength of the tooth.
Our office is dedicated to providing the highest quality of dental care possible for our patients. This includes filling cavities with white composite material whenever possible.
Placing white composite materials requires considerably more time, enhanced techniques and expensive materials. None the less, the benefits greatly outweigh the increased time and costs.
The average silver filling is 50% mercury together with 30% silver and a bit of copper, tin, and zinc. That's why they call it an amalgam. While we don't believe it is toxic or harmful, it just doesn't offer the benefits of a composite restoration.
We utilize composite fillings in place of amalgam fillings. We do this for the following reasons:
A composite filling is stronger because it actually bonds to your tooth. The composite bonds all the remaining walls of the tooth together. Amalgams do not bond to tooth structure, there is a gap between the filling and the tooth which significantly decreases the strength of the tooth. This gap can provide a pathway for bacteria and acid to get into and cause further decay.
Amalgam fillings expand and contract so much, they create a wedge in the tooth leading to a weakened tooth. The tooth, over time will eventually break apart and the only thing remaining in your mouth will be the filling.
Silver fillings are ugly and we like to give people beautiful teeth. The "enamel like" look of composite fillings create natural smiles and happy patients.
We will always offer our patients leading edge technology with a caring and professional attitude. We will only recommend to you what is best for your dental health and what we provide for ourselves and our families.
A temporary dental filling is placed while the permanent filling is being made. The temporary is made so it protects the tooth yet is easily removed. It is normal for the gum around your tooth to be a little sore when the anesthesia wears off. This will disappear in a couple of days. Do your best to chew on the opposite side until your next appointment. Chewing sticky foods can sometimes dislodge your temporary.
It is not uncommon to have the following reactions or problems with the temporary:
It feels rough. Please call us if it is making the tongue sensitive.
It came off. This is probably the most common problem. It is supposed to come off easily and some foods will help in this. Stay away from sticky foods or gum. It's important for it to be there, so call us and we can replace it.
It feels high. Give it one day, if it still feels high come in so we can adjust it. You can bruise your tooth if it is high.
It's not how I want the permanent to look. Don't worry, the permanent will look much better.
It is sensitive. The temporary will not always fit as well as the permanent restoration, so there may be some sensitivity to hot and cold as well as chewing. If it's too uncomfortable, please call.
The temporary is very important. It protects the exposed tooth so it is not excessively sensitive, it prevents food from gathering in the preparation, and prevents the prepared tooth from shifting and moving, making seating of the permanent more difficult. Use your toothbrush to clean the temporary as you normally do your other teeth. You will not be able to floss around your temporary as you may dislodge it.
If you have any questions concerning the temporary, please feel free to call. Remember, it will only be for two or three weeks and it will all be worth it when you get your permanent restoration!
There are alternative, natural-looking materials to conventional silver-colored fillings – materials made from porcelain and composite resins, which are colored to match natural tooth enamel. Unfortunately, few materials can match the strength and durability of dental amalgam and such, may need more frequent replacement. Common amalgam alternatives include:
Frequently asked questions: dental fillings
Are dental amalgams safe? Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to amalgam? Is it true that dental amalgams have been banned in other countries? Is there a filling material that matches tooth color? If my tooth doesn't hurt and my filling is still in place, why would the filling need to be replaced? Read this interesting and informative discussion from the American Dental Association.
FDA consumer update: dental amalgams
The Food and Drug Administration and other organizations of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) continue to investigate the safety of amalgams used in dental restorations (fillings). However, no valid scientific evidence has shown that amalgams cause harm to patients with dental restorations, except in rare cases of allergic reactions.
ATSDR - public health statements: mercury
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers some scientific background on mercury (contained within silver-colored fillings), and whether it believes the substance presents any health hazards.
Analysis reveals significant drop in children's tooth decay
Children have significantly less tooth decay in their primary (baby) and permanent teeth today than they did in the early 1970s, according to the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA). The analysis reveals that among children between the ages of six and 18 years, the percentage of decayed permanent teeth decreased by 57.2 percent over a 20-year period. In addition, children between the ages of two and 10 years experienced a drop of nearly 40 percent in diseased or decayed primary teeth.
Science versus emotion in dental filling debate: who should choose what goes in your mouth?
The growing debate over the safety of silver-colored fillings, known as dental amalgam, pits science against emotion, and consumers are caught in the crossfire, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). The decision about what to use to fill your cavities is a matter best decided by you and your dentist the ADA says, yet emotional reports claiming amalgam is responsible for a variety of diseases, are confusing and perhaps even alarming people to the point where they will not seek necessary dental care.If you are reading this page, chances are very good that you are among the majority of Americans who have had one or more teeth filled with an amalgam. The common name for this dental procedure is "filling."
Most dental amalgams are silver in color and are made from a mixture of mercury and an alloy of silver, tin and copper. Mercury makes up about 45-50 percent of the compound. Mercury is used to bind the metals together and to provide a strong, hard durable filling. Mercury has been found to be the only element that will bind these metals together in the best possible way to manipulate the material into a tooth cavity.
Advances in modern dental materials and techniques increasingly offer new ways to create more pleasing, natural-looking smiles. Researchers are continuing their often decades-long work developing esthetic materials, such as ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. As a result, dentists and patients today have several choices when it comes to selecting materials used to repair missing, worn, damaged or decayed teeth.
The advent of these new materials has not eliminated the usefulness of more traditional dental restoratives, which include gold, base metal alloys and dental amalgam. The strength and durability of traditional dental materials continue to make them useful for situations where restored teeth must withstand extreme forces that result from chewing, such as in the back of the mouth.
Alternatives to amalgam, such as cast gold restorations, porcelain, and composite resins are more expensive. Gold and porcelain restorations take longer to make and can require two appointments. Composite resins, or white fillings, are esthetically appealing, but require a longer time to place.
Here's a look at some of the more common kinds of alternatives to silver amalgam:
Research has shown that almost everybody has a 95 percent chance of eventually experiencing cavities in the pits and grooves of their teeth.
Sealants were developed in the 1950s and first became available commercially in the early 1970s. The first sealant was accepted by the American Dental Association Council on Dental Therapeutics in 1972. Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years. In fact, research has shown that sealants actually stop cavities when placed on top of a slightly decayed tooth by sealing off the supply of nutrients to the bacteria that causes a cavity.
Sealants act as a barrier to prevent bacteria and food from collecting and sitting on the grooves and pits of teeth. Sealants are best suited for permanent first molars, which erupt around the age of 6, and second molars, which erupt around the age of 12.
Sealants are most effective when applied as soon as the tooth has fully come in. Because of this, children derive the greatest benefit from sealants because of the newness of their teeth. Research has shown that more than 65% of all cavities occur in the narrow pits and grooves of a child`s newly erupted teeth because of trapped food particles and bacteria.
Sealant application involves cleaning the surface of the tooth and rinsing the surface to remove all traces of the cleaning agent. An etching solution or gel is applied to the enamel surface of the tooth, including the pits and grooves. After 15 seconds, the solution is thoroughly rinsed away with water. After the site is dried, the sealant material is applied and allowed to harden by using a special curing light.
Sealants normally last about five years. Sealants should always be examined at the child`s regular checkup. Sealants are extremely effective in preventing decay in the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.
Insurance coverage for sealant procedures is increasing, but still minimal. Many dentists expect this trend to change as insurers become more convinced that sealants can help reduce future dental expenses and protect the teeth from more aggressive forms of treatment.