Dental Tips Blog

Jul
13

Are Metal Fillings Bad for Teeth?

Posted in Fillings

Dentists have used amalgam dental restorations which contain silver and other metals to fill teeth for decades.

Metal fillings have been in use so long because they are cost-effective and easy to place. In fact, you can still find some dental offices that offer them.

Such places are becoming scarce, however, for the following reasons:

Amalgam Fillings Contain Mercury

Mercury is an essential part of metal fillings because it’s what enables the filling to be shaped and placed into a tooth before hardening. This mercury stays in place and shouldn’t make you sick. But some people still worry about having a potentially dangerous substance in their mouths.

Metal Fillings Stress Tooth Enamel

Although amalgam fillings last a long time, they can put a lot of wear on teeth.

Metals expand and contract with temperature changes. A metal filling gets slightly larger in warm temperatures and shrinks slightly in cool ones. Your mouth regular experiences extremes in temperature change when you take in hot and cold foods.

The problem with this is that your teeth can’t expand and contract as fast as metals do. With time, the more rapid motions of a metal filling can weaken the enamel and cause tiny cracks that lead to sensitivity, fracture, and cavities.

Silver Doesn’t Look the Best on Teeth

Metal fillings are also falling out of favor just because people don’t like the look of them especially when there are more subtle options like white composite fillings. A tooth-colored filling is much more natural looking and is especially useful for making small cosmetic smile enhancements.

Ask your dentist about which restorative options available in your area are right for your smile.

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

Feb
16

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

Feb
13

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
212-804-8884

Jan
10

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

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

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

Sep
22

Are There Any Risks to Getting a Filling?

Posted in Fillings

Dental fillings have been at the heart of dentistry for ages.

Until recent years, dentistry was all about repairing damaged teeth. Nowadays, there’s more of a preventative focus which helps people avoid the need for restorative work, altogether.

But there’s still a good chance that you’ll need a few dental fillings in your lifetime.

If you face the possibility of having a tooth filled in the near future, you might be a little worried about the process.

Some of the risks of getting a dental filling include:

  • Sensitivity
  • Pain after the procedure
  • Retreatment
  • Complications with sedation

Sensitivity and Pain

The actual process of getting a filling shouldn’t hurt at all. Your dentist will give you an injection of local anesthesia to completely numb the treatment site.

After the numbing shot wears off, however, your tooth may be a tad achy and sensitive.

The good news is that this goes away on its own within a matter of a week or so.

Retreatment

Fillings rarely need to be redone once they’re in place. But they won’t last forever, either. While a tooth benefits from the protection of a filling, it’ll never be as strong as it originally was.

With time, all fillings need to be replaced. 

Sedation 

Most people don’t need dental sedation for a few little fillings. But if you do decide on sleep dentistry, just know that it has some inherent risks that filling procedures on their own do not.

A certified and well-trained dental team will make sure any sedation procedure you have is as safe as possible.

Find out more about the risks and benefits of dental fillings by scheduling an appointment with a dentist near you.

Posted on behalf of:
Dona W. Prince, DDS
4220 Sergeant Rd #100
Sioux City, IA 51106
(712) 274-2228

Sep
19

Do White Fillings Stain?

Posted in Fillings

Look at those gorgeous new white fillings! You might be smiling bigger and laughing louder these days, happy you’re no longer self-conscious over metal fillings.

Most folks are very glad to update old restorations with fresh tooth-colored ones. But the next order of business is keeping them in good shape.

Can your composite tooth colored fillings stain? Unfortunately, yes, your new white fillings will eventually pick up pigment from the foods you eat and darken over time. Metal fillings pick up stain, as well. You just don’t notice it as quickly. But tooth-colored fillings can discolor and get even darken around the edges. 

Can I Bleach the Stain Out?

You might now wonder: “will teeth whitening remove stain from my white fillings?”

The answer here is a disappointing no. Bleaching will lighten your teeth, but that may only make the darkened filling stand out even more.

Happily, a simple dental cleaning may do the trick. Your dental hygienist will carefully buff away surface stain while polishing your teeth. Professional tooth polishing is usually enough to get rid of all kinds of stain.

Just in case your smile doesn’t respond to a thorough polishing, there is one more solution that’s guaranteed to work.

Your dentist should be able to replace old, damaged, and deeply stained fillings with new fresh ones. This is very common for restorations in front teeth that show when you smile.

With brand-new fillings to match your smile, you’ll be motivated to brush and rinse better than ever before. You’ll also be able to keep your composite fillings white by avoiding things like:

  • Red wine
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Smoking

Schedule a consultation with your dentist to find out more on keeping your smile white.

Posted on behalf of:
Mansouri Family Dental Care & Associates
4720 Lower Roswell Rd
Marietta, GA 30068
(770) 973-8222

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
18

Are Metal Fillings Poisonous?

Posted in Fillings

Metal fillings were used in dentistry for decades before we started to understand the risks of mercury exposure. Interestingly, mercury is a key ingredient in silver amalgam fillings, even today.

It’s understandable that you may wonder: are metal fillings toxic?

Why Mercury?

Metal fillings are made from an alloy of metals including tin and silver. To help them harden up from their fluid state, mercury is added. This enables the dentist to mix, pour, and shape a filling quickly before it hardens on its own.

Because of mercury’s chemical nature, there is no other reasonable substitute. But the good news is that once the filling sets up, the mercury doesn’t harm you. People have been opting for metal fillings because they’re fairly inexpensive and very durable.

Myth About Mercury Fillings

Some people believe that chewing with metal fillings releases vapors that you can inhale and get sick from. Yes, regular pressure on metal fillings can release some residue. But this is a very small amount that won’t significantly impact your body. After all, you can get the same effects from eating fish.

It would take a whole lot more mercury than what’s found in a few fillings to make you sick. Occupational exposure to mercury is more of a concern than exposure through dental work.

Alternative To Mercury Restorations

If you don’t want to take any chances with your next filling, you can probably choose to go with a white composite filling. Composite resin dental material combines plastic and glass for a strong, sleek, and metal-free finish.

Ask your dentist about the possibility of upgrading any broken-down metal fillings for tooth-friendly composite ones.

Posted on behalf of:
River Ranch Dental
203 George Hopper Rd #100
Midlothian, TX 76065
(469) 672-4245

 

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