Dental Tips Blog


Dentists Taking Steps to Combat Effects of Mercury

Posted in Fillings

Starting in July 2017, a couple new initiatives are going into effect with the aim of reducing the effects of dental mercury on the environment.

Very few dental offices in the United States still offer amalgam (50% mercury) as an option for dental fillings. They are being phased out and replaced by composite tooth colored fillings which are more conservative and metal-free.

While getting a silver filling isn’t likely to put your body at risk of mercury poisoning, getting these fillings removed could gradually be doing damage to the environment.

Dentists have to clean out the metal, which generates a mercury vapor that can be harmful if they breathe in a lot of it over the course of their career. In addition, the waste gets washed down the drain and into the water supply, where it can accumulate in drinking water and seafood.

After decades of efforts to completely eliminate the use and effects of mercury-based fillings, a couple of major steps have been taken.

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Clean Water Act

A part of this act requires that all dental offices in the United States install amalgam separators that trap mercury debris so it can be properly disposed of.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): Minamata Convention on Mercury

This initiative goes into effect as of August 2017 and aims to phase out mercury use in dental offices on a global level. As a start, dentists are encouraged to not provide silver fillings for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Later talks will work toward the goal of eliminating mercury use entirely by 2030.

Want to know more about smile-safe dental restorations? Talk with your local dentist about your options.

Posted on behalf of:
Montevallo Family Dentistry
711 Wadsworth St
Montevallo, AL 35115
(205) 665-2224


Why That Filling Needs to Be Replaced

Posted in Fillings

In all honesty, it can seem like it isn’t fair to have to get a filling again. Especially right where you already have one to begin with.

Why does your dentist recommending redoing something you’ve already had done? Aren’t dental fillings supposed to last for life?

No Fillings Last Forever

The simple goal of dentistry is this: make your teeth last as long as possible. There’s no guarantee a treatment like fillings will last forever. While stronger dental materials are still under research, we have to accept the fact that for now, it’s only a matter of time. Even a ten-year-old dental filling is something to be grateful for!

So why do fillings ultimately need to be replaced at some point?

There Was a Mistake With The Last Restoration

It happens! Perhaps the tooth wasn’t prepared correctly or a material was used that wasn’t right for your tooth. You might visit a new dentist to find out that the last one did sub-standard work.

You Are Being Too Rough on Your Teeth

It is possible to chew a filling right out of your tooth. No, normal eating habits won’t do this. But if you’ve got a habit of grinding your teeth in your sleep, this can weaken and wear down a dental filling.

Dental Decay Has Made a Comeback

This is going to be your most likely reason to update a filling. Over time, a tooth once weakened by a cavity can once again fall victim to the effects of decay. Once those tooth-eating bacteria sneak their way back under a filling, they’ll carry out their dirty work unseen.

Ask your dentist for more details if you’re advised to redo a filling.

Posted on behalf of:
Les Belles NYC Dentistry
420 Lexington Ave #228
New York, NY 10170


How Much Does it Cost to Get a Filling?

Posted in Fillings

With several factors coming into play, there is no flat-rate for a dental filling. The price you’re quoted will depend on things like:

  • Material used for the filling
  • Size of the filling
  • Complexity of the restoration (how hard it is to place)
  • Location of the dental practice
  • What your dental insurance policy covers 

Basic Cost Of A Filling

On average, a basic metal amalgam (silver) filling costs about $150. A tooth-colored composite filling goes for $250. Gold fillings come in as the most expense at around $400, but often more, depending on the size.

The averages given above will increase significantly in proportion with the size and location of the filling.

How Your Insurance Helps Out

As long as you meet any deductibles set by your insurance, your dental insurance company may cover around 80% of the cost of a filling. But this rate depends on your individual policy. Even that may vary depending on the filling material type.

Why Do Prices Vary?

A dental office needs to make a margin of profit that allows the practice to keep running. Not all that money is going straight to your dentist’s pocket! There are staff members to pay, equipment to maintain, bills to pay, and a building to maintain.

Geographic location also factors in. A dental office’s prices reflect the economy of the area it’s situated in.

You won’t know how much your next filling will cost until you actually go into a dental practice for an evaluation. Your dentist will work with you to plan treatment that suits your wallet and – even more importantly – your smile.

Posted on behalf of:
Blue Sky Dental Group
14866 Old St. Augustine Rd, Suite 111
Jacksonville, FL 32258
(904) 595-7918


5 Signs Your Pre-Teen Has Bad Oral Hygiene

Posted in Fillings

Your son or daughter is reaching that age where they start to worry about how others view them. Kids are bombarded with images that prompt them to set near-impossible standards for themselves in terms of appearance.

As for you? You just want to see your child happy and healthy. Your pre-teen deserves a great foundation to start from, one of health that gives them more freedom to express themselves.

Great oral hygiene is a cornerstone of health. If your child gets into good habits in this area now, you’ll have some peace of mind.

Use your child’s natural desire to fit in and be beautiful to encourage those healthy tooth habits.

Here are some signs that your kid may actually be headed down wrong path when it comes to dental health and hygiene:

  1. Their teeth look orange from layers of plaque.
  2. Your child is a very picky eater. Limiting their diet to junk food or carbs makes their dental plaque stickier and more prone to causing cavities.
  3. Your child’s gums appear red or swollen. This indicates gingivitis.
  4. You’re constantly visiting the dentist to get another filling for your child.
  5. You find out your child is experiencing bullying because of his or her tooth appearance or bad breath.

What you can do:

Encourage good hygiene for your family by having the appropriate dental products easily accessible around the home. Promote healthy snacking by stocking the right foods. Educate your son or daughter on how choices in daily life can affect the look of their smile.

Your family’s dentist is on your side and can help your child get an idea of the condition their mouth is in. Schedule an appointment to get more information.

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


Is Vaping Bad For Your Teeth?

Posted in Fillings

Over the past couple of years we’ve seen an upswing in the numbers of people “vaping” or using electronic cigarettes.

It’s easy to think that because there’s no smoke involved (and sometimes not even any nicotine) vaping is harmless.

But is that really the case?

Effects Of Vaping

Studies have already shown that the vapor produced by e-cigarettes triggers inflammation in the lungs that reduces their functioning capacity. While the damage isn’t the same as that caused by tobacco smoke, it’s enough to weaken your lungs.

Weak lungs are prone to bacterial infections (like with plaque biofilm spreads from your mouth.) Take one lab study, for example. Mice exposed to vaping died after catching a common flu virus. The non-vaping mice recovered just fine.

Vaping: The Mark It Leaves In Your Mouth

While an e-cigarette or vape pen won’t leave nicotine or tobacco stains, it can still cause some damage that your dental hygienist will notice. The hot vapor can actually cause mild burns and irritation called “stomatitis.” More notably is how vaping contributes to dry mouth.

Dry mouth increases your mouth’s susceptibility to problems like gum disease and cavities.  Vaping can lead to the need for periodontal treatment and fillings.

Never Smoked? Never A Need To Vape

E-cigarettes were designed to help wean people off their nicotine addiction minus the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. No one yet knows the long-term effects of vaping in humans. Taking up vaping when you’ve never smoked is an unnecessary step backwards and could pose some serious risks to your health.

Why take that chance?

If you use nicotine in any form and want to learn about how to quit or how it’s already affected your oral health, contact your local dental office.

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


What Kind of Material is Used in Dental Fillings?

Posted in Fillings

A dental filling can be used to patch up worn, cracked, or broken parts of a tooth if the structure allows for it. But more commonly, fillings repair areas of a tooth that have been eaten away by decay.

What materials might your dentist use to fill a tooth?

Silver Amalgam

Classic silver fillings are probably what come to mind when you think about repairing a cavity. These restorations are made from a mix (amalgam) of materials including copper, silver, mercury, tin, and zinc.

While these restorations last a long time, they’re falling out of favor because they can be harsh on teeth.

Composite Resin

A plastic-based tooth-colored material, composite resin is the most popular filling option. Tooth colored fillings look great, fills in nicely, and is more compatible with tooth structure than amalgam.

Glass Ionomer

These fillings have elements of glass and acrylic in them. While often too brittle to support a lot of chewing force, glass ionomer restorations do have the benefit of releasing fluoride into your tooth.


A gold alloy filling will last you the longest. But it’s also likely to be your most expensive option. It’s also only worth considering if you like the look of gold teeth.

Which kind of filling you need will be decided by considering a few factors:

  • Where the cavity is
  • How far the decay reached
  • What other restorations are already in your mouth
  • Where in your mouth the tooth is located
  • How much you (or your insurance company) are willing to spend

Your dentist will be your best guide in determining the filling material that’s right for your tooth. Schedule a dental appointment if you suspect you have a cavity.

Posted on behalf of:
Pacific Sky Dental
6433 Mission St
Daly City, CA 94014
(650) 353-3130


Why Do Dentists Just “Watch” Some Cavities?

Posted in Fillings

You may have heard your dentist say that on a few occasions: “we’ll just watch this one for a while.”

Watch it do what? Get bigger? Go away?

Why doesn’t your dentist want to treat a small cavity right away?

The sooner you treat tooth decay, the better, in most cases. Early treatment tends to buy your tooth extra time and save you money. But, there are some situations that warrant waiting a little while.

How Cavities Form

Decay starts with a weak area in tooth enamel. It usually forms as a result of acid exposure. Acid sources include sugar, bacteria, and even reflux or vomiting. The more your teeth are exposed to such things, the greater the chances that your enamel will start dissolving.

Once the enamel breaks down enough, cavity-causing bacteria can move in and become the start of a cavity. Decay progresses very slowly through tough tooth enamel. After reaching softer inner tooth layers, it can grow rapidly, so that’s the point when your dentist wants to treat it.

As long as a cavity is still stuck in the outer layers of enamel, it’s possible to stop the disease and strengthen your tooth with fluoride.

Spare Your Teeth from “Unnecessary” Work

Altering your teeth unnecessarily will only weaken them. Aggressively patching up a tooth with a composite filling every time a little spot of decay shows up is a sure way to shorten the lifespan of your teeth.

So, your dentist is likely to wait and see if a small cavity or demineralization stops itself before it reaches that point of absolutely needing treatment.

Ask your dentist about what methods are available in the office for detecting tooth decay in its early stages.

Posted on behalf of:
Les Belles NYC Dentistry
420 Lexington Ave #228
New York, NY 10170


How Long Will My Filling Last?

Posted in Fillings

After all that expense, that new dental filling had better stay in for a good long while!

However, the unfortunate nature of dental toot filling restorations is that no tooth restoration will last indefinitely. All they do is help you keep your natural tooth whole and healthy for as long as possible. How long you hold onto your new filling depends in part on what it’s made of.

Gold Fillings

Gold fillings are not as common these days, but they used to be popular. In fact, gold was the only tooth filling option at one time. If you happen to get a gold filling, you might see it last you up to 30 years. This metal works very well with teeth and doesn’t break down like other materials. The main downside is that most folks don’t like the look of gold teeth.

Silver Fillings

A silver metal filling is far cheaper than gold. It’s actually the cheapest and easiest material to place. These fillings are also falling out of popularity because they can cause tooth fractures over the 15 years you might expect them to last. They also contain traces of certain elements that some people prefer to avoid.

Composite Fillings

Tooth-colored composite fillings suit teeth quite nicely and look great, too. No one ever has to know how many fillings you have if they all blend seamlessly with your natural tooth color. You may have to replace a white filling within 5-7 years of getting it. Some last a decade or more.

The good news is that scientists are constantly working to find more lasting treatment alternatives. Who knows? One day we might not need dental fillings,at all. Talk with your dentist about which tooth filling material is best for you.

Posted on behalf of:
Clearwater Dentistry
3006 Gulf to Bay Blvd
Clearwater, FL 33759


Why Can’t I Get a Metal Filling Anymore?

Posted in Fillings

Dentists still learn how to place metal fillings in dental school, but you don’t see them used much these days. If you really wanted one, it could still be done.

But there are solid reasons why metal fillings are going out of date. Most of today’s dentists open up their practices right from the start offering only white composite dental fillings, so you’re bound to have a hard time finding metal ones. Here’s why:

White Fillings – Kind To Teeth

Metal fillings don’t create a very snug seal with the tooth. Thus, they require more of the tooth to be carved out so they can be anchored in place. White ones form a chemical bond with tooth enamel so they can afford to be more minimal in design.

While amalgam restorations are strong and long-lasting, they can sometimes be too strong for the tooth. The metal expands and contracts with temperature change at a rate faster than the tooth itself does, creating tiny cracks that allow bacteria to leak in. Conversely, composite fillings “give” similar to natural teeth.

For Future Reference

White composite fillings allow for a little more visibility on dental x-rays. A large metal restoration can block the view and is better at hiding sneaky cavities. If you develop new decay, you’ll be glad to catch it early on.

Err On The Safe Side And Go Mercury-Free

Tooth-colored dental fillings don’t contain any mercury. Granted, the traces in metal fillings are too small to worry about, but not having to deal with the substance anymore is healthier for patient and dentist, alike.

Are you keeping up with recent developments in dentistry? Contact your dentist for the latest.

Posted on behalf of:
Ora Dentistry
2733 Elk Grove Blvd #180
Elk Grove, CA 95758
(916) 975-1000


4 Uses for Old Toothbrushes

Posted in Fillings

Regular brushing with a fresh toothbrush is part of a good oral hygiene routine that will help prevent tooth decay and reduce the need for dental fillings, crowns, and other tooth restorations. Most dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if the bristles have become frayed or if you have been sick.   Before you throw that old toothbrush away, why don’t you see if you can put your brush to use in one of these areas?

  1. Scrubbing Tile Grout

There’s nothing like a toothbrush to loosen grime trapped between tiles or even around the sink faucet. It’s especially effective when used with a cleaning solution of baking soda and vinegar.

  1. Cleaning Jewelry

Toothbrush bristles are the ideal way to add some shine to your jewelry. Their small size makes them perfect for scrubbing the hard-to-reach inside of rings where dirt can accumulate. Use a jewelry cleaning chemical to treat your favorite treasures and then loosen debris with your old brush.

  1. Pre-Treating Stains On Clothes

Need a way to dab just a little pre-treat laundry soap on your favorite blouse? Your old toothbrush makes the perfect applicator. It’s also good for scrubbing out isolated stains.

  1. Unclogging Filters

Lots of household appliances come with filters that you probably overlook more often than not. A good cleaning will keep your refrigerator or clothes dryer running smoothly. A toothbrush can not only nab gunk stuck in the screen of the filter, but it’s perfect for reaching the angles at the corners of the filter.

Naturally, you can’t retire your toothbrush without having another at the ready to take its place. Use this opportunity to find a brush you’ll love even more. Schedule a dental appointment and ask your dentist for some tips on selecting a new toothbrush that suits your smile care needs.

Posted on behalf of:
The Newport Beach Dentist
1901 Westcliff Drive #6
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 646-2481

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