There is now considerable debate surrounding the use of mercury amalgam fillings which are unsightly, causes mercury toxicity and fail to strengthen teeth weaken by decay. The result is that many dentist and patients prefer mercury free alternatives. Tooth color filling composites are the best materials for restoring small regions of decay in most teeth. Often called White fillings (To distinguish them from dark amalgam) these materials produce very good cosmetic results. The most popular kind of ‘white filling‘ is called a Composite filling. It is made up of a composite quartz resin (glass and porcelain) and usually contains some sort of light sensitive agent that is used during curing. They are an attractive, durable alternative to silver (amalgam) fillings. In the past, white fillings were placed only on front teeth, but recently these newer composite materials have been specifically designed to be able to survive the pressure of grinding when you chew. These light cured composites are best looking and in most cases they can be inserted in one appointment.
After Composite Filling
As you can see, tooth-colored fillings substantially improve the beauty of your teeth.
- Since they bond to the tooth, composite fillings restore most of the original strength of the tooth. Silver fillings weaken the teeth, making them more susceptible to breaking. Since broken teeth are very expensive to restore, composites can save a lot of expense over the long run.
- Composite fillings restore the natural appearance of the tooth.
- Composites are mercury-free fillings. Mercury in the fillings is viewed by some as being toxic.
- Composites require less removal of tooth structure to place. Especially with new cavities, the size of the hole made for the filling can be dramatically smaller with composites.
FAQS ABOUT AMALGAM FILLINGS & COMPOSITE FILLING
Is the mercury in amalgam fillings toxic?
There is a controversy over the potential adverse health effects of silver fillings, which are close to 50% mercury and generally have less than 40% silver in them. Although mercury is toxic, it has been thought that it was not released to the body during use as a filling material. Recent research, however, seems to show that these fillings release a very small amount of mercury vapor during chewing. Whether or not this amount of mercury is harmful to the body is a subject of controversy. Most people have some silver amalgam fillings in their teeth with no apparent adverse effects. No harm from the mercury in amalgam fillings has ever been absolutely proven. However, it has never been proved that it is not harmful, either. Many people are preferring the mercury-free fillings because of this health issue.
Are composite fillings weaker than amalgams?
This is another question that is loaded and highly controversial in the profession. The direct answer to this from us is yes, the mercury-free fillings or composite fillings are weaker than amalgam. However, if you take the total result—the filling plus the tooth—the composites are stronger because they bond to the tooth, making the tooth more resistant to fracture.
How long have these white fillings on back teeth been around?
Their early history goes back to the 70s, well before the technology was available to do them well. In the mid-80s, technology was developed to bond to dentin and the materials were improved. While it is true that in the 80’s, these composite restorations were functionally inferior to the old silver amalgam restorations that is no longer the case, provided that they are placed with proper technique by an experienced practitioner.
How long the bonding lasts?
The technology of composite tooth bonding materials is wonderful as far as the beauty that it can bring to your teeth. Still, with all that has been done, there are some limitations to the materials of which you need to be aware. How long bonding lasts depends on many factors that are unique to the individual. Many people will go for ten or fifteen years and have the bonding look as good as the day it was put in. Some people will get staining on the margins of the bonding after one or two years and will need some touch-up work. If you take care of it well, it would be unusual to ever have to replace it, but some touch-up work would be normal after three to five years.
Under normal mouth conditions of most people and if used as recommended, the tooth bonding work will not darken or discolor with age. In most cases, it is also durable enough to withstand the stresses of ordinary mouth function.
Will their be any sensitivity to air and touch?
When veneering or re-shaping is done, it is common to have some areas of sensitivity on the teeth that are treated. This sensitivity may persist for a number of weeks, but should gradually diminish. If you feel that you are experiencing unusual sensitivity, please contact our office for help in alleviating it.
TAKING CARE OF THE BONDING
1.Maintain the teeth by brushing and flossing faithfully. Avoid sweets or starchy foods between meals. Bonding holds up much better when it is clean.
2. If you have extensive bonding work, we recommend frequent professional maintenance. Having your teeth cleaned regularly can help protect your bonding and make it look better and last longer.
3. Hard toothbrushes can also damage bonding. For small areas of tooth bonding, this degree of care is not necessary. But if you have large sections of a tooth or teeth that are bonded, the extra care would be recommended.
4. When bonding is done on the biting edges of the front teeth, it is the most susceptible to breaking. Be careful not to subject it to unnecessary stresses. Carrots, popcorn, and other hard foods should be bitten off to the side, away from areas that have been bonded. Never bite fingernails, pins, or other hard objects with bonded teeth.
5. Report to the office if you develop any areas that snag floss or feel rough. Areas like this can be smoothed easily if they are caught early.
6. Alcoholic beverages can cause the bonding to deteriorate prematurely. Also, smoking and frequent drinking of coffee or tea tend to stain both your teeth and the bonding.