Posts for tag: fillings
One of the top concerns in public health today is exposure to the metallic element mercury within the environment. At abnormal levels, mercury can have a toxic effect on our nervous systems and cause other health problems.
These concerns over mercury have also increased attention on one material in dentistry that has included the metal in its makeup for over a century — dental amalgam for filling teeth. Amalgam is a metal alloy that can include, in addition to mercury, silver, tin, and copper. When first mixed dental amalgam is a moldable material used for fillings in prepared teeth. It then hardens into a durable restoration that can withstand biting forces.
While the use of amalgam has declined with the introduction of life-like colored fillings, it's still used for teeth like molars subject to high biting forces. With what we now know about the ill effects of mercury (which can make up to half of an amalgam mixture) is it safe to continue its use?
The American Dental Association has performed extensive research into amalgam safety. They've found that mercury is stabilized by the other metals in the amalgam. This prevents "free" molecules of mercury, the real source of harm to health, from escaping into the blood stream in the form of vapor. Although trace amounts of mercury vapor from the amalgam are released as a person chews, those levels are well below the threshold that could cause harm.
From a patient standpoint, the biggest drawback to dental amalgam isn't safety — it's the appearance of teeth it's used on. Silver fillings aren't considered attractive. And now there are viable filling alternatives that not only look like natural teeth but can withstand biting forces almost as well as amalgam. These materials include composite resins, mixtures of glass or quartz within resin, or glass and resin ionomers. Each of these has advantages and disadvantages depending on how and where they're applied.
After a thorough dental examination, we'll be able to advise you on what filling material will work best to produce the best result. And if we do suggest dental amalgam you can rest assured it will be a safe choice.
If you would like more information on the safety of dental amalgam, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Silver Fillings — Safe or Unsafe?”
Your Macon, GA dentist offers fillings that protect teeth and offer aesthetic benefits, as well.
If you’ve ever dealt with tooth decay, then chances are good that Dr. Clinton Watson and Dr. Nichole Jackson, your Macon, GA dentists at Northside Family Dentistry, placed a dental filling in your tooth. There are a variety of different kinds of fillings out there, and each one offers its own unique benefit for your smile. Composite resins have become a very popular dental filling as they offer both strength and aesthetics.
What are dental fillings?
Dental fillings are used to restore the decayed parts of a tooth. Getting a dental filling is usually the last step after your Macon dentist has removed the decaying portions of enamel and cleaned out the cavity. The filling material is then used to replace the cavity and help restore the shape of your tooth.
Why are dental fillings necessary?
It’s important that bacteria and decay aren’t able to break through tooth enamel. To prevent this from happening to your tooth again, Dr, Watson or Dr. Jackson will fill your tooth, which repairs and it seals out any further decay.
What are the different kinds of dental fillings?
There are several different kinds of dental fillings: gold, silver, composite and porcelain. While gold and silver fillings boast a long lifespan because of their strength and resilience, composite resin fillings have become the most popular dental filling because they actually match the color of your tooth.
How do you get a dental filling?
The patient is usually given local anesthesia before your Macon dentist drills away the decayed parts of enamel from your tooth. Once this is complete, they will begin to apply the composite filling in layers. After molding each layer, a laser is used to harden it before applying a new layer of resin. Your dentist will continue to mold and harden the resin until they have completely restored the damaged parts of your tooth.
A surefire way to make sure you’re not dealing with tooth decay is to see your Macon, GA dentist every six months for routine exams. If it’s time for you bi-annual cleaning, then it’s time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Clinton Watson and Dr. Nichole Jackson at Northside Family Dentistry.
Are tooth-colored fillings safer than silver fillings?
No. Both are considered safe based on the most reliable and up-to-date scientific evidence. Still, tooth-colored fillings do have some definite advantages. Not only do they blend in with your smile far better than “silver” (dental amalgam) fillings, but they often require less removal of healthy tooth structure. That’s because in order to fill a tooth with amalgam, it is necessary to create indentations in the tooth called “undercuts” to hold the amalgam in; this requires the removal of some healthy tooth material. With a tooth-colored filling, we need only remove the decayed part of the tooth to place the filling.
Are there any disadvantages?
Yes, tooth-colored fillings don’t always wear as well as metal fillings — particularly on back molars where they are subjected to the most stress from chewing. They are also more expensive and less likely to be fully reimbursed under dental insurance plans.
Are there different types of tooth-colored fillings?
Yes, three different choices of tooth-colored fillings are available:
- Composite — This mixture of plastic and glass is the most common type of tooth-colored filling. Newer materials can hold up almost as long as amalgam fillings and look very natural, though they can stain over time just as natural teeth do.
- Porcelain — High-tech dental ceramics are considered the most aesthetic choice of filling material. They don’t stain as composites can, but their relatively high glass content can make them more brittle and prone to breakage. They may be more expensive than composites.
- Glass Ionomer — Made of acrylic and glass powders, these inexpensive, translucent fillings blend in acceptably well with natural teeth and have the advantage of releasing small amounts of fluoride to help prevent decay. However, they generally don’t last as long as other restorative materials.
We would be happy to offer guidance on which choice would be best in your own unique situation.
If you have any questions about tooth-colored fillings, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth-Colored Fillings.”