Dental technology has changed considerably in the past few decades, making dentistry safer, more comfortable and more efficient than ever before. In addition to revolutionary new dental technology, new standards are being set to ensure patients receive the best care possible. One such measure is the replacement of old amalgam fillings, also known as “silver fillings” with new options, including tooth colored composite fillings. Not only are they more aesthetically pleasing, many dental professionals believe they are safer, too. Many dental professionals no longer offer silver fillings; you will want to check with your dallas cosmetic dentist to discuss your particular situation and what he or she recommends.
Amalgam fillings have been the mainstay of dentistry since the 1800’s. These “silver colored” fillings are made from a combination of metals, including silver, tin, copper and mercury. They are very durable, easy to place, and cost less than the newer composite fillings, and are generally covered by dental insurance. Since the dental amalgams contain mercury, there have been extensive studies to ensure their safety. Initially, the amount of mercury used to bond the other metals was greater than it is now, and small amounts of mercury were slowly being absorbed by the patient’s body, causing concern about possible health problems.There had been a proposed link between this mercury absorption and Alzheimer’s disease due to the fact that heavy metals, in certain forms, are said to affect the brain and other organs. While it has been proven that amalgam fillings do emit mercury vapor when they are being placed into the mouth and during removal, there has been no conclusive evidence that the mercury is connected to Alzheimer’s disease. The mercury is bound to the other metals in the filling, which reduces the amount that is absorbed by the body, making dental amalgams used in dental offices today safe for patients. Currently, the amount of mercury used in silver fillings is so minute that it has been deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization, all of whom have concluded that amalgam fillings are harmless and an effective restorative material. Since silver fillings have been researched and tested for many years, and they are the easiest and least expensive material used to make fillings, and can withstand extensive chewing, these fillings are very useful for the molars, where the majority of chewing takes place. These fillings also last the longest, up to 20 percent longer than composite fillings. This makes dental amalgams still very popular, however, there are various other materials available to create fillings. Discuss these options with your dentist in dallas to determine which is the best choice for you.
One such option are the tooth colored composite fillings, ones that blend with your natural teeth and are virtually invisible. Composite fillings can be a combination of glass,acrylic plastics, quartz filler and colorants to make resin.The resin bonds to the tooth, making the tooth stronger and more resistant to fracturesmaking composite resin an excellent choice if you would like to hide your fillings. These fillings are easier to polish and can be an exact match for the color of your natural teeth. However, composites take longer to place, meaning more time in the dental chair, plus they are more expensive than the silver fillings, and are not always covered by insurance.
The biggest issue with composite fillings is that they dissolve in your mouth over time, but this has not proven harmful. Since the composite material is constantly being exposed to hot and cold foods and liquids, the filling will shrink more than the tooth itself, causing an eventual breakdown over time. Composite fillings also can accumulate pinholes, making the fillings susceptible to discoloring or staining. Generally, you will have to have them replaced at some point to maintain their strength and aesthetic appeal.
Also available are porcelain fillings, which resist staining better than composite resin fillings, but are expensive. They can last longer than composite fillings, but not as long as silver amalgam fillings. Another option to fill your cavity is a gold alloy filling. The gold alloys are a mixture of gold, copper and other metals, resulting in a strong filling that is resistant to corrosion. Gold fillings, while noticeable, resist fracture and general wear and tear better than composite resin fillings. Not surprisingly, gold fillings are more expensive than other options. Both porcelain and gold fillings are durable and most patients find them preferable to amalgam fillings, mainly due to their aesthetic appeal.
There are several factors to consider when having a cavity filled. For a child receiving a filling in a baby tooth, paying extra for a composite filling doesn’t make much sense; the tooth is going to fall out eventually anyway. If, however, you are getting a cavity filled in a permanent tooth and it is visible when you speak or smile, you may want to consider a tooth colored filling. Oftentimes, the choice comes down to aesthetics since the silver fillings are the most durable and least expensive of the options. Having a discussion with your dental professional about your needs and wants, the costs involved and the time commitment of each kind of filling is the first important step. Depending upon the size and location of the cavity, your dentist dallas may recommend a particular type of filling or your insurance may offer to pay for a silver amalgam, but not for a tooth colored filling. If you truly want resin, porcelain or even gold instead of silver, you will have to weigh your financial responsibilities first.
The best choice, of course, is to avoid getting a cavity in the first place! You can avoid cavities and other dental problems like gum disease by consistently caring for your teeth and gums. Eating a healthy diet, brushing and flossing regularly and seeing your dentist at least twice a year can help you stave off the need for any dental fillings!