Posts for tag: fillings
One of the top concerns in public health today is exposure to the metallic element mercury within the environment. At abnormal levels, mercury can have a toxic effect on our nervous systems and cause other health problems.
These concerns over mercury have also increased attention on one material in dentistry that has included the metal in its makeup for over a century — dental amalgam for filling teeth. Amalgam is a metal alloy that can include, in addition to mercury, silver, tin, and copper. When first mixed dental amalgam is a moldable material used for fillings in prepared teeth. It then hardens into a durable restoration that can withstand biting forces.
While the use of amalgam has declined with the introduction of life-like colored fillings, it's still used for teeth like molars subject to high biting forces. With what we now know about the ill effects of mercury (which can make up to half of an amalgam mixture) is it safe to continue its use?
The American Dental Association has performed extensive research into amalgam safety. They've found that mercury is stabilized by the other metals in the amalgam. This prevents "free" molecules of mercury, the real source of harm to health, from escaping into the blood stream in the form of vapor. Although trace amounts of mercury vapor from the amalgam are released as a person chews, those levels are well below the threshold that could cause harm.
From a patient standpoint, the biggest drawback to dental amalgam isn't safety — it's the appearance of teeth it's used on. Silver fillings aren't considered attractive. And now there are viable filling alternatives that not only look like natural teeth but can withstand biting forces almost as well as amalgam. These materials include composite resins, mixtures of glass or quartz within resin, or glass and resin ionomers. Each of these has advantages and disadvantages depending on how and where they're applied.
After a thorough dental examination, we'll be able to advise you on what filling material will work best to produce the best result. And if we do suggest dental amalgam you can rest assured it will be a safe choice.
If you would like more information on the safety of dental amalgam, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Silver Fillings — Safe or Unsafe?”
Cavities used to be nothing to smile about, but thanks to advances in technology, tooth-colored fillings have made repair of decayed teeth so natural, they're invisible. Now you no longer need to feel self-conscious about that unsightly flash of silver when you talk or laugh. While silver amalgam fillings were once the preferred option for tooth restoration filling materials, tooth-colored “composite resins” have gained popularity as a safe and effective alternative to treat new cavities or to replace old silver fillings.
A Better Alternative: Consumer demand for tooth-colored (metal free) restorations as well as the dental profession's desire to preserve as much natural tooth structure as possible has led to the development of special “adhesive” tooth-colored materials. Besides the aesthetic advantages over amalgam fillings, tooth-colored fillings require the removal of less tooth structure. While traditional silver fillings often crack or leak over time, composite resin fillings bond directly to tooth structure and actually reinforce and strengthen it while creating a natural looking smile.
The Choice is Yours: You can choose to replace unsightly silver fillings with tooth-colored ones to enhance their cosmetic appearance. Although concern has been expressed over the mercury content in older silver fillings, years of research cited by the American Dental Association has found that traditional amalgam fillings are safe. Unless you have cracks or damage to your current amalgam fillings or have other concerns regarding your dental health, replacing silver fillings is a matter of personal preference.
Cost: Although composite resin fillings may cost slightly more than silver fillings, they are very durable and may be more cost-effective in the long run.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding tooth colored fillings. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.”
It takes a lot of skill, experience, talent and artistry to create tooth restorations that look so natural that no one can tell them apart from the originals. To do so requires understanding of the normal anatomy of a tooth as well as of the interactions of light and color.
How the anatomy of a tooth determines color
The color that we perceive when looking at a tooth results from the combined appearance of the tooth’s center core (dentin layer) and its covering enamel. Going from the outside in, the enamel is made of tightly packed crystals of calcium, which cause it to be one of the hardest substances naturally produced by animals. The crystals are also responsible for a tooth’s brilliance and translucence. The dentin is more like bone, a porous living tissue composed of microscopic tubes, interspersed with more calcium crystals. In the very center of the tooth is a central chamber containing the pulp and nerves.
Each of these layers has its own physical and optical properties. Since the enamel is translucent and the dentin is more opaque, most of the tooth’s color comes from the dentin and is transmitted through the enamel layer. Factors that affect this transmission include the thickness and age of the enamel as well as external tooth whitening.
If the enamel is more translucent, more of the color of the dentin shows through. If it is more opaque, the enamel absorbs and reflects light so that less color is visible and the enamel looks brighter.
The language of color composition and reflected light
Color means the whole spectrum in the rainbow. The spectrum is made up of the three primary colors — red, blue, and green. When all are combined, they create white light.
Hue refers to the brightest forms of the colors. The color we perceive depends on the dominant wavelength of light that is reflected by an object.
Value refers to a color’s lightness or darkness. A brighter color has a higher value.
Chroma is the amount of identifiable hue in a color. An achromatic color (without hue) appears gray.
Saturation is a measure of a color’s intensity.
This terminology of color is used not only by dentists and dental technicians, but also by a wide range of artists. It implies expertise and understanding of how colors work, how they vary and change and affect one another.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about bonding to repair chipped teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor article, “Artistic Repair of Front Teeth with Composite Resin.”
Are tooth-colored fillings safer than silver fillings?
No. Both are considered safe based on the most reliable and up-to-date scientific evidence. Still, tooth-colored fillings do have some definite advantages. Not only do they blend in with your smile far better than “silver” (dental amalgam) fillings, but they often require less removal of healthy tooth structure. That’s because in order to fill a tooth with amalgam, it is necessary to create indentations in the tooth called “undercuts” to hold the amalgam in; this requires the removal of some healthy tooth material. With a tooth-colored filling, we need only remove the decayed part of the tooth to place the filling.
Are there any disadvantages?
Yes, tooth-colored fillings don’t always wear as well as metal fillings — particularly on back molars where they are subjected to the most stress from chewing. They are also more expensive and less likely to be fully reimbursed under dental insurance plans.
Are there different types of tooth-colored fillings?
Yes, three different choices of tooth-colored fillings are available:
- Composite — This mixture of plastic and glass is the most common type of tooth-colored filling. Newer materials can hold up almost as long as amalgam fillings and look very natural, though they can stain over time just as natural teeth do.
- Porcelain — High-tech dental ceramics are considered the most aesthetic choice of filling material. They don’t stain as composites can, but their relatively high glass content can make them more brittle and prone to breakage. They may be more expensive than composites.
- Glass Ionomer — Made of acrylic and glass powders, these inexpensive, translucent fillings blend in acceptably well with natural teeth and have the advantage of releasing small amounts of fluoride to help prevent decay. However, they generally don’t last as long as other restorative materials.
We would be happy to offer guidance on which choice would be best in your own unique situation.
If you have any questions about tooth-colored fillings, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth-Colored Fillings.”
When you say “ahhhhh,” are you worried about all your unsightly metal fillings? If so, did you know that your dentist can resolve your concerns through the use of tooth-colored fillings?
The public's demand for aesthetic tooth-colored (metal free) restorations (fillings) together with the dental profession's desire to preserve as much natural tooth structure as possible has led to the development of special adhesive tooth-colored restorations. And the demand is not limited to just the front teeth. In fact, many people are opting to replace all of their metal fillings — not just those in the front teeth — so that all of their teeth appear younger, fresher and as if they have never had any cavities.
Can you really mimic natural teeth? Proper tooth restoration is a lot more than just filling holes. It is a unique art applied with scientific understanding. Each tooth's internal shape and structure is the guide to how it must be rebuilt to successfully restore it. However, choosing which material to use to restore or rebuild teeth is a critical one based on scientific understanding, experience and clinical judgment — expertise we use daily in our office. The most popular options include composite resins and porcelains, as they allow us to mimic natural tooth colors and shapes. But for the most life-like, natural tooth-colored filling, your best option is porcelain. Porcelain, which is built up in layers, can be made to mimic the natural translucency and contours of tooth enamel.
But what about matching the color? Will it really match? Absolutely! Whether we use resins or porcelain, through our artistry we will create absolute tooth-like replicas. You will never know your teeth have fillings! And unlike metal alloys, these newer materials bond directly to the remaining enamel and dentin of which the teeth themselves are made, thus stabilizing and strengthening them. These techniques are even suitable for children's teeth and can incorporate fluoride to reduce decay.
Still undecided? If so, we understand. Feel free to contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth-colored restorations. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth-Colored Fillings.”