Dental Tips Blog


What Type of Filling Is the Best?

Posted in Fillings

There is no simple answer to that question and only a qualified dentist can make that determination based upon their experience and each patient’s unique situation.  In general dentists will opt to use either a amalagam or a composite material to fill a tooth after the decay has been removed.

Traditionally, dentists have used amalagam to fill cavities once the decay has been removed.  Amalagam is a mixture of several metal alloys including silver, tin, copper and mercury.  While the material performs well and is not harmful, it is also very visible.  Recent advances in dentistry have resulted in an entirely new class of composite dental fillings that are economical, very durable and are white in color, which results in natural appearing teeth no matter how many fillings a patient has!  Typically these composite fillings are made with a combination of glass or quartz and resin.

The choice of the filling material to be used should be discussed in detail with the dentist prior to the work being done.  Typically dentists prefer to use composite filings is areas where the filling could be visible.  In general, dentists are able to custom mix the composite material to closely match the tooth.  This results in a filling that virtually is invisible to the average person.

Some dentists still like to use the traditional amalagam fillings in the back molars, as they are usually withstand chewing better than the composite fillings.  However, dentists are using more and more composite fillings in these areas, often opting for a composite filling, when the amalagam filling fails.

While there is no one ideal filling type for every patient, composite fillings continue to grow in popularity.  The choice should be discussed with the dentist to determine the best selection for the individual patient.

Posted on behalf of Grateful Dental



Air Abrasion Dentistry

Posted in Fillings

Have you ever wondered if there was a way to avoid the annoying whine of the drill when going to the dentist?  The good news is that now there is a way to do this.

This new technique is called air abrasion, and is used to help resurface and clean out smaller cavities in a person’s mouth. Air abrasion uses a stream of high-powered air to help clean and reshape teeth in preparation for placement of dental fillings, and is ideal for someone who is afraid of the dentist, who does not like the sound of the drill, or who is sensitive to sounds. Air abrasion is quieter, reducing anxiety in many patients, and is ideal for smaller cavities.

Unfortunately, air abrasion can only be used for small cavities. It cannot be used for larger cavities, or the resurfacing of a tooth that is required before a crown or cap is placed. Air abrasion is also not suitable for cavities that appear between the teeth, as the air stream is usually not small enough to provide exactness.

If you have been putting off going to the dentist because the noise or environment is a bit frightening to you, or causes you anxiety, talk to your dentist about air abrasion. You may be an ideal candidate for this procedure.

If you are not a candidate for air abrasion, your dentist will provide other options for you to have a pleasant experience. Never put off going to the dentist because of fear or anxiety.  Look for a dentist that specializes in gentle dentistry, as they know how to treat the anxiety that is common in all adults at the dentist.  After all, your teeth need to last a lifetime.  Take the steps today to make sure that they will last!


Are Composite Fillings Safe?

Posted in Fillings

A recent study suggesting that composite dental fillings may be linked to behavioral changes in children has many parents concerned about composite dental fillings in their children.  The study, which is scheduled to be published in the August 2012 issue of Pediatrics, examined the behavior of children with at least two dental fillings five years after they got the fillings and found that children with composite fillings had slightly higher incidence of behavioral and emotional issues than children with no fillings or amalgam fillings.

Dentists have been using composite materials to fill dental cavities since the 1970s.  Composite fillings are popular with patients because they are tooth colored and more aesthetically pleasing than silver colored amalgam fillings.  Composite fillings have other advantages over amalgam.  Since composites bond to the tooth, they add strength and support to a damaged tooth.  Also, less tooth material has to be removed to place a composite filling.

However, composite fillings contain BPA, a chemical that is suspected of causing health problems including developmental problems in children.  BPA is used in a wide variety of products.  The FDA has looked at the use of BPA in recent years and decided not to ban its use in the US although it suggested that further research was necessary.

The amount of BPA in composite fillings is very small and researchers were quick to caution against jumping to any conclusions.  They pointed out that much more research was needed to determine if there is causal link between composite fillings and behavior problems.  In addition, the alternative to using composite materials is to use amalgam which contains mercury.  Concerns have been expressed about the level of mercury in amalgam for years.

The best solution is to avoid needing to have a filling placed.  Cavities are almost entirely preventable by following good oral health practices.  Talk to your dentist about how to best prevent cavities in your child.


Is a Crown or a Filling the Best Option For You?

Posted in Fillings

Crowns and fillings are both types of dental restorations that can be used to repair a tooth that has been chipped or damaged by decay.  Typically, small restorations call for a filling and a crown is placed when so much of the tooth has been removed that it would not be structurally sound with just a filling in it.

In some cases, the damage falls in the middle of these two alternatives and your dentist will give you the option of whether to restore the tooth with a dental filling or to place a crown.  A filling will be far less expensive and can be completed in a single visit, but a crown has some significant advantages that should be considered before making a decision.

The main advantage of a crown is that the result will be a much stronger tooth that should last a long time.  A filling is placed within the walls of the tooth and relies on the tooth for strength and support.  If the tooth has been removed, the walls will be thin and there is a significant likelihood that the tooth wall will eventually crack.  If the filling occupies an entire corner of the tooth, there is less tooth material for the filling to adhere to.

A crown is like a cup placed over the top of the tooth.  Unlike a filling, a crown if made in a dental lab outside the mouth and is made of more durable material than a filling.  In addition, a crown has more tooth area to adhere to than a large filling and is less likely to come off.

If given the option between a crown and a filling, you will need to weight the risk that the filling will cause the tooth to crack, further damaging the tooth and requiring additional dental work against the cost of a crown.  If you go with the large filling and the tooth cracks, you will end up paying significantly more than going forward with the crown in the first place.

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