Dental Tips Blog

Dec
5

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.

Gold

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

Nov
8

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
212-804-8884

Oct
30

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
727-608-4361

Oct
9

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

Jul
31

Are Sealants the Same Thing as Fillings?

Posted in Fillings

Have you ever had a sealant before? If not, it’s easy to see how it can be confused with a dental filling.

These treatments both look white and sit on top of a tooth. Sealants are usually cheaper, but their differences go far beyond cost alone.

Sealants: What They’re For

A sealant is a thin ribbon of resin that fills in deep grooves on the chewing surface of a tooth. Toothbrush bristles can’t always reach into those valleys, so sealing them off makes for an easier to clean surface.

Sealants are designed to prevent decay.

Fillings: The Reparative Treatment Phase

Whether tooth-colored or metal, all fillings do the same job of repairing a tooth once a cavity has already struck. You can’t slap a sealant over a filling because that would just trap the decay inside a tooth where it will keep growing.

Instead, you have to remove the damaged tooth material and replace it with a new structure.

Do You Need A Sealant Or A Filling?

It’s not as simple of a matter as walking into your dentist’s office and requesting a sealant. In fact, even your dentist can’t tell you what you need until he or she gets a good look inside your mouth.

Special tools, lasers, and x-rays all aid in diagnosing decay. If nothing harmful is discovered, your dentist will be happy to place as many preventive sealants as you need. But once a spot of decay breaks through the enamel, it’s too late – that tooth will need a filling.

While you’re at your dentist’s, find out more about other cavity-prevention strategies. Call today to schedule your visit.

Posted on behalf of:
Dental Care Center At Kennestone
129 Marble Mill Rd NW
Marietta, GA 30060
(770) 424-4565

Jul
25

Is That Brown Spot a Cavity?

Posted in Fillings

There’s really nothing like that sinking sensation of dread when you look in the mirror and notice a dark spot in the center of your tooth.

You pick at it in a panic, hoping it’s just a spice left over from dinner. But no, it doesn’t seem to budge even after a vigorous brushing.

Is it time to panic?

What A Dark Spot Can Mean

Your molars (back chewing teeth) resemble a landscape of mountains and valleys. The mountains are the cusps that interlock with teeth directly above or below. The valleys are the shallow spaces. This setup gives your teeth a solid grip on food and mega chewing power.

But those little valleys are also great for catching stain.

You may not have noticed it at first, but over the course of time, your tooth may have accumulated dark stain from the food you eat. It’s possible to have dark spots on your teeth that are perfectly harmless.

What You Should Do

Even if it is just a spot of stain, it’s still a good idea to get it checked out. Those stained fissures and pits in molars are prime territory for cavities to get started in.

Your dentist will use x-rays, a special cavity probe, and maybe even a laser scanner to check for signs of decay. If he or she finds that it’s time to place a filling, you’ll be glad you didn’t wait too long before coming in.

In the meantime, work on brushing those sticky valleys a little more often. You might even want to ask your dentist about sealing healthy molars to avoid further stain and decay.

Posted on behalf of:
Royal Oak Family Dental
7101 NW 150th St. Suite 100
Oklahoma City, OK 73142
(405) 754-5941

Jul
12

How Long Will a White Filling Last You?

Posted in Fillings

In talking about white or tooth-colored fillings, most people are referring to composite resin restorations.

Composite fillings have become popular because they are:

– Kind to natural teeth

– Aesthetically-pleasing

– Mercury-free

These time-tested and sleek restorations can last as long as 10 years, but it depends on how well you take care of your tooth in the meantime.

Comparing White and Metal Fillings

Because composite resin isn’t as hard as metal, it can’t hold up to the wear of bite force for quite as long. White fillings usually last for 5-7 years, which is about 30-50% as long as metal ones do, on average. That being said, newer materials are enabling white fillings to last longer than ever before.

A Happy Medium?

You’ll have to talk with your dentist to find out which restorative material is right for your smile. This means weighing the pros and cons of both metal amalgam and composite resin fillings.

One middle-ground option could be porcelain fillings.

Also called “indirect fillings,”or “inlays and onlays,” porcelain restorations are designed outside the mouth and then cemented into the prepared tooth like a puzzle piece. These fillings give you the nice look of white teeth, but they are more durable than composite and tend to last about as long as metal fillings.

The possibility of a porcelain filling could be worth looking into.

Make Your Composite Fillings Last

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to make the white fillings you have now last as long as possible. The most important thing you can do is practice great oral hygiene to prevent new decay from affecting your entire smile.

Visit your local dentist to find out more about getting the most out of your dental work.

Posted on behalf of:
Salt Run Family Dentistry
700 Anastasia Blvd
St. Augustine, FL 32080
(904) 824-3540

May
3

Why Fillings Won’t Last Forever

Posted in Fillings

If you ever asked your dentist how long your filling would last, you were probably told that they’re good for an average of about 10 years. Some restorations have stuck around for much longer. At some point, though, you’ll need to update your fillings.

Your Incomparable Tooth Structure

There’s simply no dental filling that can quite measure up to the strength of a complete and natural tooth. Once your tooth enamel’s integrity is compromised by a cavity, a filling can only temporarily patch up and protect your tooth.

White composite resin fillings are better than metal ones in terms of tooth compatibility. Even so, it’s just a matter of time before your tooth begins to age and break down around the filling.

A Smile Under Constant Attack

Your teeth experience acid attacks on a regular basis throughout the day. Naturally-occurring bacteria in your mouth produce biological waste which weakens enamel and triggers cavities. The foods you eat also contain acid-causing natural sugars.

This harsh environment quickly weakens the bond between tooth and filling, shortening the lifespan of your restoration.

Dentistry is On the Move!

Dental researchers are working to develop materials that last longer and resist decay better than ever before. Within the next several years, we could see tooth restorations enter the scene that last for decades.

Today’s most advanced dental restorations utilize the most conservative techniques and materials that create a chemical bond with the tooth. By staying on top of your restorative needs and taking a preventive approach, you can postpone the need for any major dental work.

Ask your dentist about the materials and techniques used in your local office.

Posted on behalf of:
Park South Dentistry
30 Central Park S #13C
New York, NY 10019
(212) 355-2000

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

Most Popular

Tori, Exostosis, and Extra Bone Formation in the Mouth

A fairly common occurrence in the mouth is the existence of extra bone development along the outside or inside of the jawline near the teeth, or in the roof of…

Lingual Frenectomy versus Lingual Frenuloplasty

Lingual frenectomy and lingual frenuloplasty are both dental procedures used to correct a condition called ankyloglossia. Ankylogloassia, more commonly known as ‘tied tongue’, is an abnormality of the lingual frenulum….

Difference Between Conscious and Unconscious Sedation

Sedation dentistry is a wonderful option for many people who would not or cannot tolerate dentistry in a traditional dental setting.   Many people have a fear of visiting the dentist,…