Dental Tips Blog

Apr
17

Inlays, Onlays, Overlays – What’s the Difference?

Posted in Fillings

What do inlays, overlays, and onlays have in common? They are all called “indirect fillings.”

They’re designed outside the mouth and then cemented into a prepared tooth like a piece in a puzzle. Virtually the only difference between all these fillings has to do with their size.

Inlays

Inlays are the smallest, covering the least amount of tooth surface. They usually restore damage on the inner part of a chewing surface. Picture the valleys or grooves on the top of your molars. That’s where an inlay would fit into.

Onlays

One step above inlays, onlays anchor onto one of the cusps or pointy parts of a tooth for more stability. If one of those sharp “mountains” on your teeth gets damaged, an onlay would do the job of repairing it.

Overlays

Overlays are also referred to as partial crowns. They’re far more conservative than crowns, however. An overlay covers the entire top part of the tooth, but it doesn’t replace the entire outer layer of enamel as crowns do. These restorations offer the most strength and protection just short of a full crown.

Pinlays

Sometimes a dentist might decide to anchor an indirect filling with the support of a pin that’s fastened directly into the tooth.

Indirect fillings can be made of ceramic, porcelain, or gold and often require two visits to place. Some ceramic fillings can be made on-site in a single appointment if the office has that technology.

With the goal of being conservative yet strong, indirect fillings can help you retain more of your tooth for a long time. Ask your dentist for more information on the restorations available in your area.

Posted on behalf of:
Soft Touch Dentistry
1214 Paragon Dr
O’Fallon, IL 62269
(618) 622-5050

Apr
15

Will a Filling Be Enough?

Posted in Fillings

Whether you have a cavity or somehow chipped your tooth, you know full well that it’s time to have it fixed.

When you visit your dentist, you may be told that you need more than just a standard filling. Why?

What Happened to Your Tooth?

After suffering damage like a fracture or decay, your tooth is now exposed to the environment. This can lead to more decay or a deeper fracture. Your tooth may be very sensitive and perhaps so sharp that it hurts your tongue.

A small hole from a shallow cavity is easy to fix with a filling. But those times when the damage is much larger means that you need more support than a traditional restoration.

Filling Alternative Options

Teeth don’t hold usually hold up well after losing a big chunk of their outer layer. This means they are structurally-compromised. Patching up the hole with a moldable material just won’t cut it. Your tooth will likely stay sensitive or even break down faster than usual.

To help your tooth last as long as possible, your dentist may recommend another kind of restoration such as a crown or onlay.

Dental crowns replace your tooth’s entire outer layer. This gives your tooth strength and protects it from all angles. Dental crowns are often the last resort before your tooth needs a root canal.

Onlays (or inlays) are solid restorations designed outside the mouth and then cemented into place like a piece in a puzzle. This technique gives them more strength, giving your tooth more support than a regular filling would.

Your dentist has other methods for reinforcing fillings and saving your tooth. Ask him or her for more information.

Posted on behalf of:
Green Dental of Alexandria
1725 Duke St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 549-1725

Feb
14

Should You Replace Your Fillings?

Posted in Fillings

It would definitely be nice if your dental fillings could last forever.

The reality is, however, that no dental restoration can withstand a lifetime of use. From crowns to fillings to veneers, all will need to be updated at some point. This is because once your natural tooth structure is compromised, it has to be protected. Artificial protection wears away with time.

So yes, your dental fillings will eventually need to be replaced.

But how do you know when the time is right?

Reasons to Replace Restorations

People may opt to update their fillings at will just because they want prettier ones that blend in with their teeth. Classic metal restorations stand out and even the white composite ones can stain and break down. You may also choose to replace your fillings for cosmetic purposes.

Do you grind or clench your teeth? That habit contributes to premature wear on the fillings and teeth in many patients. Like them, you should reinforce weak spots with fresh strong restorations and then look into getting a guard to protect your new dental work.

Traditional amalgam metal fillings contain mercury. While this element isn’t enough to cause you any issues, some people like to clean out all traces of it, just to be safe.

When Not to Replace

After examining your tooth, your dentist may feel that it’s not worth replacing the fillings. Some of the reasons may include:

  • Your tooth is not structurally strong enough to support a larger filling
  • The filling is still holding up well
  • You have better option for restoring and supporting a tooth

If you’re in doubt about the integrity of your current fillings, plan a visit to your dentist to get a professional perspective.

Posted on behalf of:
Kennesaw Mountain Dental Associates
1815 Old 41 Hwy NW #310
Kennesaw, GA 30152
(770) 927-7751

Feb
6

Do You Have Mercury Poisoning from Metal Fillings?

Posted in Fillings

Metal fillings are made from an amalgam of materials including silver, tin, copper, and mercury. It’s that final element that has created quite a debate in the dental field over the past several years.

Now, more patients are now choosing white composite fillings over metal ones, and more dentist are offering only white restorations than ever before.

Why have silver amalgam fillings become so controversial?

Watching What You Put in Your Body

Mercury poisoning has been known to cause severe issues such as:

  • Muscle breakdown
  • Respiratory problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability and more

So why is such a controversial material used in dentistry? Metal fillings contain such a small amount of mercury because it allows the metal to remain soft and moldable. This way, a dentist can pack it into a tooth for a snug fit before it hardens.

Is Dental Amalgam Harmful?

Once the mercury is mixed and sets up in a filling, it’s really not going anywhere. Some studies have shown that traces of mercury can be released in vapors when the fillings wear down over time. But reviews of this research proves that the amounts are far too low to cause any problems.

Mercury toxicity happens when you’re exposed to this element for a long time. A true allergy to mercury is very rare with less than 100 confirmed cases. A couple dental fillings won’t make you sick, but a lifetime of mining the element without proper protection just might.

Amalgam Alternatives

Even though your current metal fillings should be just fine, your dentist would probably recommend that you consider updating them to mercury-free white ones. White composite restorations are much more conservative and esthetic. Talk with your dentist for more information.

Posted on behalf of:
Rock Point Family Dentistry
115 S Lakeline Blvd #200
Cedar Park, TX 78613

Jan
25

3 Ways to Make Your Fillings Last Longer

Posted in Fillings

Unfortunately for all of us, dental fillings just cannot last forever.

That’s the case, for now at least. In the meantime, you definitely want to do your best to avoid having your dental fillings updated or replaced more frequently than you really need to. Here are a few ways how:

  1. Brush and Floss DAILY

Yes, good oral hygiene doesn’t just benefit teeth – it’s good for all your restorations, too. White fillings can occasionally pick up stain around the edges if you don’t brush and rinse away those dark-staining foods.

Fillings – both white and silver – fail when a tooth develops a new cavity under or near them. It’s very important that you diligently clean your teeth even after you get a filling. A restoration does not make a tooth invincible!

  1. Get Plenty of Fluoride

When a tooth gets a filling, it’s compromised for the rest of its life. The microscopic seam between tooth and composite or amalgam material becomes a potential site for bacterial infection.

Fluoride in toothpaste and rinses fortifies tooth enamel against bacteria and acid attacks. Your teeth need lots of this mineral after being filled.

  1. Use a Mouth Guard at Night

Many fillings are quickly worn down when their owners grind their teeth. A tooth clenching or grinding habit usually happens at night when you’re not aware of it, so it’s nearly impossible to control.

A customized mouth guard worn while you sleep can help you avoid fracturing, loosening, or wearing down your fillings.

When well-cared for, fillings can last ten years, fifteen years, or possibly longer. Find out what more you can do to make your valuable restorations last by visiting your dentist.

Posted on behalf of:
Enamel Dentistry
2717 S Lamar Blvd #1086
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 717-5315

Jan
25

What is Holistic Dentistry?

Posted in Fillings

While holistic dentists are not very common, the practice as a whole is gaining in popularity.

Holistic dentistry is the practice of treating the mouth as a small part of the greater whole. A dentist in this branch is concerned with the effect that dental treatment and problems can have on the entire body.

Holistic Dentistry vs. Traditional Dentistry

All dentists who take a holistic approach have been accredited to treat dental problems. But there is no regulated system for certifying holistic professionals.

Every dentist wants to help you reach your smile goals. Instead of merely repairing problems, holistic or biological dentists focus on finding the solutions and preventative treatments that will be kind to your entire system.

Holistic dentists are qualified to perform any procedure other dentists do, but they will incorporate more elements into treatment.

Some of these specialties include:

  • Mercury-free composite fillings
  • Safe metal filling removal
  • Nutritional therapies
  • Orthopedic orthodontics
  • Addressing breathing issues

There is certainly a fundamental truth in the concept of treating your mouth as a part of your body. Dental infections are scientifically-known to affect other body systems. Nutrition, exercise, and rest all factor into dental health. You can’t deny the fact that your mouth is closely connected to the rest of you. Your oral hygiene should always go hand-in-hand with a healthy lifestyle.

Is Holistic Dentistry Right for You?

At the end of the day, the choice is completely up to you. It’s perfectly reasonable to begin your own holistic journey by setting personal health goals to better harmonize your oral and overall health. A holistic dentist just might provide you with the resources you need.

Get started by asking your personal dentist for recommendations.

Posted on behalf of:
Sycamore Hills Dentistry
10082 Illinois Rd
Fort Wayne, IN 46804
(260) 213-4400

Jan
21

Why Don’t My Fillings Cost the Same?

Posted in Fillings

You might expect that dental fillings should cost the same across the board.

But there are actually some good reasons that they don’t.

Types of Filling Material

Gone are the days of solid metal fillings. Restorations now come in different materials for different purposes and each has its own price:

  • Composite resin (white)
  • Glass ionomer
  • Porcelain
  • Gold

Influence of the Local Economy

Dental offices located in metropolitan areas tend to be pricier in all areas of care. The cost of dental materials and labor will increase just as the cost of anything else does. Advances in technology for the dental field will reflect in the cost of things like dental restorations.

This means that the filling you got fifteen years ago will probably be far cheaper than one today.

How Large is Your Filling?

Even though your filling is one solid piece, it may cover different aspects of your tooth. Not all fillings are simply poured straight into the top part of your tooth. A dental restoration may need to replace the corner of a tooth or cover a portion of the side of the tooth.

Generally, fillings are priced based upon the number of surfaces they reach. A two-sided filling will cost more than one that just goes on the top of the tooth. A restoration that extends from one tooth side, over the top of the tooth, and overlaps to the other side will cost more than the two-sided one.

It makes sense – a multifaceted filling takes more time, skill, and material than others.

To find out what restorations are going for in your area, you’ll need to contact your local dental office. Schedule a visit for a cavity-check.

Posted on behalf of:
Marvin Village Dentistry
8161 Ardrey Kell Road
Suite 101
Charlotte, NC 28277
(704) 579-5513

Jan
10

4 Signs You Should Update Your Fillings

Posted in Fillings

Whether composite or amalgam, all fillings will need to be replaced, sooner or later. Some patients willingly choose to swap out metal restorations for the more aesthetic white ones. It’s actually much better to proactively replace a restoration rather than to wait until it causes you pain.

Watch out for these tell-tale signs that your current dental filling is nearly done for:

  1. Dark Stain Around Your Filling

Staining is very common around old metal fillings. It may or may not hide the start of a cavity, so you should get it checked out. Even if there’s no decay yet, the discoloration may make you self-conscious about showing your teeth off in a smile.

  1. Cracks in the Tooth

Can you see any dark lines in the tooth around the filling?

Small fracture lines are the result of cumulative years of stress on the tooth and filling. Some fractures are too small to cause problems, but others are a sign that your tooth needs a new support.

  1. Sensitivity

Sensitivity usually comes and goes. But if it shows up suddenly in a spot where you have a filling, it could indicate the presence of a small fracture or cavity you can’t yet see.

  1. Missing Pieces

You can’t leave open pieces of your tooth exposed or else they could develop more decay. If your filling has partially or completely come out, then it definitely needs to be replaced.

If you’ve noticed that a particular old filling is looking a bit worn, should you get it filled or not? Put your mind at ease with a professional evaluation. Call your dentist to schedule a checkup.

Posted on behalf of:
Huebner Smiles Dentistry and Orthodontics
12055 Vance Jackson Rd #103
San Antonio, TX 78230
(210) 625-7056

Jan
9

4 Benefits of White Fillings

Posted in Fillings

Metal fillings are falling out of style as you read this.

It’s not that metal (aka “silver” or “amalgam”) fillings aren’t safe or effective. Lots of people still appreciate the strength and durability of the traditional fillings. But they are getting a little harder to find. Today’s dentists just aren’t placing as many of them as they did in years past.

Why is that?

Here are four solid reasons to get onboard with the increasingly popular white fillings that are taking over modern dentist offices:

  1. Composite Fillings Chemically Bond with Tooth Enamel

White or “composite” restorations create a tight seal with the tooth after placement. This keeps them securely in place and helps prevent cavity-causing bacteria from invading in through any leaky margins.

  1. White Fillings Are Conservative

Because metal restorations don’t bond chemically with teeth, they require the removal of more tooth structure to wedge them in place. Getting a white composite filling instead can help you hold onto more of your tooth!

  1. Go Mercury-Free!

Although the metal fillings haven’t been proven to cause any problems, some people are still nervous about their trace mercury content. With the metal- and mercury-free composite restorations, you don’t need to worry about any adverse effects.

Ask your dentist which option is right for you!

  1. They Just Look Better

You have to admit it: a mouth full of metal fillings isn’t something you’re quick to show off. When all your fillings blend in with your natural tooth color, no one ever has to know just how many cavities you’ve had. Smile without shame after you trade in your silvers for composites!

Talk with your dentist to find out how white fillings could improve your smile for the better.

Posted on behalf of:
Ambler Dental Care
602 S Bethlehem Pike C-2
Ambler, PA 19002
(215) 643-1122

Jan
8

The Best Kind of Dental Filling

Posted in Fillings

If you think you have a cavity that need to be filled, how do you choose the right type of restoration?

There are many different kinds of fillings – metal and white, large and small, varied shapes and techniques. Your options may seem overwhelming. The good news is that you can’t simply pick one and see how it goes. Not just any kind will do.

To find out the best kind of filling, you need to have your dentist check out the tooth. He or she will let you know which options you can choose from.

Three Common Filling Types:

Amalgam fillings are the most traditional dental restorations. These are also known as silver or metal fillings. This option is fast and economical, but some individuals are concerned over the trace mercury content in amalgam.

Composite or white fillings are also very strong and look the most natural. These restorations are great for repairing teeth that are visible when you smile.

Indirect fillings are designed outside of the mouth and later cemented into the prepared tooth like a piece in a puzzle. Also called an inlay or onlay, this type of restoration is usually made from a durable and beautiful material like ceramic.

Why Did My Dentist Recommend That?

When your dentist suggests a particular type of filling, his or her recommendation considers factors like:

  • Size, shape, and depth of the cavity
  • The location and size of the tooth
  • Cosmetic appearance
  • Your oral health in general
  • The presence of other dental restorations

You can make the final decision out of the options your dentist feels are safe for you. The next time your dentist recommends a filling, ask about your options.

Posted on behalf of:
Gainesville Dental Group
1026 Thompson Bridge Rd
Gainesville, GA 30501
(770) 297-0401

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