When a patient develops a cavity, a filling is needed to treat it. Traditionally, cavities are filled with a silver amalgam material made from a mix of various metals like copper, tin and mercury. And although this combination has been used in dentistry for more than 150 years, it’s that last material that has caused concern among some patients. Dental amalgams do release low levels of mercury vapor, but according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are safe for adults and children age 6 and above.
Despite the research and evidence, some patients prefer not to use this type of filling. There are alternatives to amalgam fillings. These include composite resin, porcelain and gold. Composite resin is tooth-colored, making it preferable for patients who want to avoid silver fillings showing when they smile. Cosmetic fillings:
- Blend in with the other teeth for a more attractive appearance
- Don’t contain any mercury
- Require less of the decayed tooth to be removed before placing the filling
- Are highly durable and protect your tooth against cracks and fractures
A composite white filling is made from a durable combination of acrylic resin and glass, that more closely matches the color of the teeth.
Two types of fillings can repair a damaged tooth and stop the spread of decay: inlay and onlay filling. Inlay fillings are much the same as a traditional filling in that the material is inserted into the cavity of the tooth. An onlay filling is inserted into the cavity as well as over the surface of the tooth.
There are several reasons patients choose to replace their metal fillings:
- Tooth fractures. Traditional fillings performed on pre-molar teeth can cause the tooth to crack. This is because in order to prepare a tooth for an amalgam filling, the dentist must remove a certain amount of the original tooth to make room for the filling. This results in a weakened tooth.
- Time. Over time, fillings age and may need to be replaced. Loose fillings can result in infections. If your fillings are old, it may be time to have them replaced.
- Risk of infection. Traditional fillings are not bonded to the tooth, so over time, food, saliva and other bacteria can find its way into the tooth, causing decay. A composite filling is bonded to the tooth to help better protect it against infection down the road.
- Cosmetic appearance. Traditional metal fillings were strictly designed for function. If you are interested in having a more attractive look, without silver fillings showing, tooth-colored fillings might be a perfect fit for you.
If you’re interested in replacing your metal fillings with composite white fillings, contact us to schedule a consultation. We’ll determine whether a composite filling is right for you.
The steps toward a cosmetic filling:
- Consultation: Our dental staff will discuss your concerns, objectives, and options and answer any questions you may have
- Amalgam filling removal: If the composite filling will be replacing a metal filling, Dr. Nivea will need to remove your existing filling. The length of time for this procedure will depend on the number of fillings to remove.
- Placement of composite fillings: Dr. Nivea will bond the composite material directly to the decayed tooth, then shape it for a natural appearance that both looks and functions like your other teeth.
With good oral hygiene, cosmetic fillings will last 7-10 years. A few best practices:
- Keep your teeth and gums healthy
- Schedule regular check-ups and professional cleanings
- Avoid biting down on hard foods or other hard objects
Fenton Family Dentistry will work with you to determine the best course of action and prescribe a unique treatment that meets your needs. Dr. Nieva and the entire team at Fenton Family Dentistry are focused on providing every patient with exceptional service and care. Schedule an appointment or contact us to learn more about cosmetic fillings.