Fillings for Dental Cavities
At some point in our lives, most of us wind up with a cavity. A cavity is a bacterial infection of the hard structure of the tooth which causes the tooth to “decay” or fall apart. In most cases, a cavity calls for your dentist to remove the decay and to fill in the tooth area that was removed. There have been a number of advances in the field over the past few years, so if you’re one of the lucky ones and haven’t had a cavity in a while, below are the options available, so you understand the choices available to you.
Composite Resin Fillings
Tooth fillings colored to look like a natural tooth are known as “Composite Resin Dental Fillings” and are made of a plastic dental resin. There are no known health risks for receiving composite fillings. Composite resin dental fillings were created as an alternative to traditional metal dental fillings. Composite resin dental fillings are strong, durable, and make for a very natural-looking smile. Many dental insurance plans cover their use.
Amalgam or “mercury/silver” fillings contain mercury and are often referred to as metal fillings. Their safety has been in question for a number of years due to concerns over the absorption of elemental mercury contributing to several diseases, including Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, dementia, and arthritis. The FDA investigations have not proven that the minute amount of mercury vapors released from silver fillings is a health hazard. Amalgam fillings are a mixture of mercury liquid and small pieces of silver and other metals such as copper, tin, and zinc. Studies released in 2009 and endorsed by the American Dental Association verified the safety of “mercury/silver fillings” as a restorative material.
Dr. Schick does not use amalgam or mercury fillings anymore because there are qualities about the composite – resin fillings that he prefers. His goal is to always do the best restorative work possible that will last a long time with proper care.
Inlays and Onlays
If over half of your molar tooth’s biting surface is decayed or fractured an inlay or onlay may be a better option than a filling. These options are basically for when more than a filling is needed but less than a crown will do. An inlay is placed in between the cusps of the tooth, whereas an onlay will cover one or more of the cusps. They can be made of a gold alloy, porcelain or tooth-colored resin and are cemented into place.
Who is a Candidate for Tooth-Colored Composite Resin Fillings?
If you have a cavity in a tooth, broken fillings, mercury/silver (amalgam) fillings, this type of dental filling is well worth discussing with your dentist. Mercury/silver fillings or amalgam fillings can easily be removed and replaced with far more attractive tooth-colored fillings.
Composite resins may also be used to enhance the appearance of any tooth, which is a tooth bonding procedure.
How are composite resin fillings accomplished?
Dr. Schick will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area. He then prepares an access to the decayed area of the tooth and removes the decayed portions. A composite filling will preserve more of the natural tooth as the composite resin can be bonded to the tooth in thin layers. If your tooth’s decayed area is close to a nerve, a special liner (medicated filling) will be used to protect the nerve.
A special dental material is then used to open the pores of your tooth’s dentin (second layer) and roughens the surface of the exposed enamel. This achieves a better and stronger bond. The bond resin is applied to bond the composite to your tooth. This material is made of the same dental resin as the composite filling however it is much more fluid. This layer is then hardened and cured with a curing light.
Composite resin fillings are applied in thin layers and slowly built up to form the complete filling. A dental curing light will harden each layer before the next is applied.
Once your filling is completed, Dr. Schick will use a special paper, articulating paper, to adjust the height of your dental filling so that your bite remains correct. Your composite filling and tooth is then polished.
If such a filling is not going to be enough to protect your damaged tooth, if your tooth enamel is thin and will easily fracture, or if your tooth has had a root canal that weakened your tooth, you may require additional protection such as a crown.