Fillings for Teeth – The Old Technology
You may have seen, or experienced firsthand, those silver-colored, metal fillings for teeth. Those old fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, contain mercury. Amalgam fillings are the unsightly old silver fillings of yesterday. The ADA requires specific protocol be met in order to remove amalgam fillings from the mouth, due to its mercury content. The way that amalgam works is that you need to have, or make, a large hole in the tooth in order to fit the material inside. It then doesn’t truly harden, but rather constantly expands. This is why you may have noticed, with surprise, that many of your amalgam fillings you received as a child have required crowns when replaced. The expansion of the amalgam in the tooth can sometimes cause internal fracturing of the tooth requiring more invasive measures to complete treatment. Today, there’s a better way to fill and amend teeth that may have been damaged by cavities or other problems.
Fillings for Teeth – The New Technology
Thanks to new technology and advances in adhesive dentistry, patients have better options. Natural-looking, tooth-colored fillings called resin composite provide an aesthetically pleasing alternative to traditional, silver-colored, amalgam ones. These new resin fillings offer more than cosmetic advantages. They are also metal and mercury free, making them perfect for patients with metal sensitivities, allergies, or health concerns. These restorations are both natural-looking and safe. They are also stronger and healthier for your teeth and gums. Due to the durability of resin composites, they are also available with minimal lost tooth structure.
How a dentist determines it’s time for a filling
• Visual exam: If your teeth are discolored or have obvious problems, our dentist may be able find cavities simply by looking at your teeth. But if further inspection is needed, a metal tool called an explorer may be used. An explorer will expose decaying enamel by sticking in it.
• Decay dye: Once rinsed over your teeth, the dye will adhere to decayed tooth surfaces and stay away from non-decayed areas.
• X-rays: X-rays are a popular way of detecting decay and may help our dentist see cavities that can’t be observed through other methods.
To book a consultation fill out form or call (972) 442-6879
TYPES OF MATERIALS FOR FILLINGS
There are five types of materials commonly used to fill in space where a cavity has been removed. If you ever need a filling, here’s some helpful information about the different types. You may not always have a choice in the type of filling you need, but if you do, it’s helpful to know the pros and cons of each.
Silver Amalgam Fillings
This is the most widely known type of filling. Silver amalgam isn’t just silver—it’s a mixture of minerals that’s 50 percent silver, tin, zinc, and copper, and 50 percent mercury. It’s a popular choice for fillings among dentists because it’s strong, durable, and doesn’t cost a lot.
The typical silver amalgam filling can last 15 years or more. Silver amalgam also is pretty easy for a dentist to fit into a cavity and there are no concerns that it might become contaminated by blood or saliva.
Silver amalgam has disadvantages though. It’s not aesthetically pleasing, so it isn’t a good choice in a tooth that’s highly visible. The material also can expand and contract over time, causing a tooth to crack. These fluctuations also can create spaces between the filling and the tooth that food and bacteria can become trapped in, allowing new cavities to form.
The mercury in silver amalgam is controversial, but according to the American Dental Academy and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, studies have shown that silver amalgam fillings are safe.
Composite fillings are made of a resin and plastic material that is placed into the cavity while it’s soft, then hardened with bright blue “curing” light. It’s a popular choice because it can be matched in color to the shade of a person’s existing teeth, so it’s not as obvious as a silver amalgam filling. At the same time, though, composite fillings don’t last as long as some other types. They typically need to be replaced every five years or so and they’re pricier than silver.
These are made of porcelain and are both durable and aesthetically attractive. Ceramic fillings are more expensive than other types, but they’re tooth-colored and more resistant to staining and abrasion than composite resin.
The disadvantage of using ceramic instead of a composite is that it’s more brittle and so needs to be larger to prevent it from breaking. This means the area in the tooth must be made larger so there’s room for the extra bulk. These ceramic restorations are typically referred to as inlays or onlays.
Glass Ionomer Fillings
These glass-and-acrylic fillings are good for children whose teeth are still changing. They last less than five years but release fluoride, which can help protect a tooth from further decay. However, they’re significantly weaker than composite resin and more likely to crack or wear out. Traditional glass ionomer does not match tooth color as precisely as composite resin.
It won’t surprise you to learn that gold fillings are expensive and not very common. In fact, it can be difficult to find a dentist who’ll offer gold as an option. What’s more, it takes more than one office visit to fit a gold filling properly. However, gold is sturdy, it doesn’t corrode, and a gold filling can last for more than 15 years.
What to Expect During Your Procedure
This procedure takes between 20 minutes to an hour depending on the extent of tooth damage. Before filling cavities, our dentist at Wylie Smiles will numb your teeth, gums, and the inside of your cheek to avoid discomfort during the procedure. It may take a few minutes for the local anesthetic to take effect, but when it does, our dentist will start drilling the decayed part of the tooth and replace it with a filling. You may feel some pressure during this process, but you should not feel any pain.
Taking Care of Your Dental Fillings
After the procedure, your mouth will feel numb and your jaw might feel a little sore for a few hours. You may also experience some sensitivity and pain, but this discomfort should subside.
There is no special care needed for a tooth with a filling, you should take care of it the same way you would a healthy tooth. Brush and floss daily to prevent bacteria from accumulating on or around your filling. Schedule appointments with our dentist every 6 months to help ensure good oral health.
A dental filling may last many years, but you should stay on the lookout for signs that the filling has deteriorated. Call our office if you notice any of these symptoms:
• Cracks or chips appear
• Tooth sensitivity
• Pain when you bite down
• The filling falls out
It’s best to contact our office early, so our dentist can remove the damaged filling and replace it. If a damaged filling is left out too long, bacteria will continue to march through your teeth. This can lead to extensive decay that may require a larger filling or a root canal.
Porcelain or Composite?
There are a number of pros and cons associated with both composite and porcelain, and amalgam.
Safety and Appearance: In addition to having a more pleasing and natural tooth-like appearance, porcelain and composite fillings have the potential advantage of not containing mercury or other metals that may contribute to sensitivity or toxicity. Mercury toxicity from amalgam fillings is a controversial subject, though no research to date has been able to show any risks of having mercury as a component of amalgam fillings. However, many patients do have metal sensitivities and some have reported a metal taste after the placement of amalgam. That said, there has been considerable research evaluating the toxicity associated with composite biodegradation. Mercury toxicity is well established, but further study is needed to fully understand potential composite toxicity.
Durability: Porcelain and composite previously were not as durable as amalgams. However, dental manufacturers have made great strides in improving the strength of composite resin materials, to the effect that composite fillings now have the potential to be used for all teeth, including molars. Furthermore, composite materials often require less tooth preparation and may not weaken the affected tooth as much as amalgam, which often require more extensive tooth preparation. However, amalgam fillings do have a long-term track record and may last significantly longer than porcelain and composite, in addition to being more durable. Composite materials are also more prone to leak and can therefore decay more rapidly than amalgam.
Tooth Shaping: All fillings require preparation of the affected tooth, but less preparation is usually required for porcelain or composite. Typically, this means that less healthy tooth structure has to be removed when placing a composite.
Technique and Time: More than amalgam, the success of porcelain or composite depends on your dentist’s technique. Porcelain or composite restorations also require the use of additional equipment, and the procedure itself requires up to 50 percent more time than the amalgam filling procedure. These factors contribute to the higher costs associated with porcelain and composites. In addition, most dental insurance companies do not cover the additional costs associated with porcelain and composite.
Skill: Most dentists are skilled in porcelain and composite fillings, but their level of skill may vary. Selecting the appropriate dentist is an important factor in treating tooth decay or similar damage. Here at Wylie Smiles, our Dentist, Dr. Rana Nassar is extremely experienced with all forms of Dental Filling. At your dental consultation our dentist and patient treatment coordinator will discuss all options with you.
What Happens if You Don’t Fill a Cavity?
It isn’t recommended to delay on a filling a cavity. Since a cavity is a hole in the tooth, forgoing a filling can cause the cavity to deepen so much so that or a root canal, crown or tooth extraction is needed to restore the tooth. Cost will now increase from basic to a major service to save or replace a tooth.
Moreover, leaving a cavity untreated puts the tooth at risk of infection, since bacteria and particles can get trapped within the cavity. As tooth decay worsens, it is common to feel pain or sensitivity as the nerves at the center of the tooth become exposed, and a patient becomes at-risk for developing an abscess tooth.
To book a consultation fill out form or call (972) 442-6879
FAQs: All About Tooth Fillings
What Are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings use diverse materials to plug the holes left by decay. By taking up this empty space in the tooth, they restore its shape and size. This also prevents the decay from growing.
What Are They Made Of?
The material composition of fillings varies(SEE ABOVE). Tooth-colored fillings are created using composite resin. Gold and amalgam fillings are made of metals. Some people prefer tooth-colored fillings that blend in with their smile.
Are Dental Fillings Safe?
Yes. Some patients worry about amalgam fillings that contain a blend of mercury; however, the American Dental Association maintains that these pose no threat to your health. If you prefer, you can have mercury fillings replaced by others.
Does the Procedure Hurt?
A dental filling is a relatively painless process. If you are sensitive to pain, you can talk to your dentist about anesthetic options.
Are There Any Symptoms Afterwards?
You may experience some soreness and tooth sensitivity. You can safeguard against this by avoiding chewing on tough foods and steering clear of very hot or cold beverages.
Will My Insurance Cover the Filling?
Most insurance plans will cover the least expensive choice of fillings. It depends on your particular PPO insurance provider whether they cover full or part of the payment. Most will cover a part of the payment. We accept children’s Medicaid. Children’s Medicaid cover 100% of all filling cost.
How Long Do Fillings Last?
If cared for properly, a typical filling will last 5-10 years before it needs to be replaced.