Progression of Decay
Recurrent Decay (Around a Restoration)
Two Types of Dental Fillings for Cavities
If you have decay in your teeth, the dentist will remove the decay and put in a tooth filling. You have a choice of silver amalgam or non-metal (plastic composite) dental fillings. To improve the life expectancy of your tooth fillings, don’t chew ice, eat taffy, or use tobacco. Limit snacks, soda pop, and sweets. Brush and floss daily, and visit the dentist regularly. Taking care of your cavities when they are small is a good investment, because replacements usually are larger and more expensive.
Composite vs Amalgam Filling
Silver Amalgam Tooth Fillings
Metal tooth fillings are expected to last 10-15 years. Silver doesn’t bond to the tooth, and it expands and contracts differently than the tooth. This can cause fractures. Fractures in your enamel lead to broken teeth which require larger fillings. Larger silver dental fillings may require crowns when they fail if there isn’t enough tooth structure left to hold a filling. After the cavity is cut away, silver tooth fillings are placed by wedging the filling under the hollowed out tooth structure. Silver amalgam dental fillings are durable, but amalgam gets dark as it ages and the color shows through your tooth enamel making it look grey. Silver dental fillings cost less than white tooth fillings. If you have insurance, your insurance company will pay for silver dental fillings on molars due to lower cost and durability. If you want white tooth fillings, you would have to pay the difference in cost because white fillings are considered a cosmetic dentistry procedure.
Silver dental fillings have been used to repair cavities since the 1800’s. They are a combination of silver, mercury, and other metals. These metals are “amalgamated” into one. Because silver dental fillings contain mercury, some people consider them hazardous. The scientific evidence doesn’t support this theory. The American Dental Association indicates that the mercury in silver dental fillings is stable so that it will not leak free mercury radicals into the body.
Composite Tooth Fillings (White Dental Fillings)
Composite dental fillings are made of tooth-colored material used to repair tooth damage like decay or a chip. Once the flawed part of the tooth is removed, the composite dental filling is used to fill up the tooth, giving it back its original form. White fillings bond to the tooth, improving the strength of the enamel. That may limit cracks that break off part of the tooth and require more dental work. This requires the dentist to have artistic ability as well as scientific expertise.
White, or composite, tooth fillings are the new standard of the dental industry. They are used for small and medium-sized fillings. Composite tooth fillings look better than metal because they come in colors that can match your own enamel. They look natural. For larger dental fillings in molars, stronger materials such as gold or porcelain may be a better choice. Modern white fillings last nearly as long as silver fillings.
Reasons for composite tooth fillings:
- Chipped teeth
- Closing a gap between two teeth
- Cracked or broken teeth
- Decayed teeth
- Worn teeth
Composite Filling – Anterior
Composite Filling – Posterior
How are composite tooth fillings placed?
Composite tooth fillings can typically be done in one appointment. After numbing the tooth, your dentist will remove decay and other damaged areas. Before placing the new dental filling, the new space will be thoroughly cleaned. Special medication is applied to teeth that have decay near the tooth root. After this prep work, the composite dental filling will be placed, shaped and polished, and your tooth will once again have its original shape, color, and function.
After first receiving a composite tooth filling, it may be sensitive to hot and cold. Once your tooth acclimates to the new filling, this sensitivity will go away.
If you would like to further discuss cavity treatments and dental filling options, we’d be happy to talk with you. Call us at Oak Park Dental, 503-588-7800 or click “here” to contact us. We look forward to talking with you and helping to make 2016 your healthiest dental year ever.