Why do I need a dental filling?

Dental Caries is one of the most prevalent diseases across the globe. When tooth structure is destroyed due to dental caries (commonly known as a cavity), fracture, traumatic injuries, or through parafunctional habits like grinding the dentist usually recommends a dental restoration (also known as a dental filling) to replace the missing/damaged tooth structure.

To place a dental filling, the dentist will first remove bacteria and decay, thoroughly clean the remaining tooth, apply a fluoride-releasing liner to minimize sensitivity, and apply a dental filling into the prepared hole to reinforce the tooth’s structural integrity. With the dental filling in place, you can enjoy restored function and better oral health.

If left untreated, the decay will eventually penetrate a tooth’s nerve chamber, resulting in excruciating dental pain and the need for root canal therapy or tooth extraction.

Pros and Cons of Silver Amalgam Restorations:

Amalgam fillings are made up of a combination (alloy) of a variety of metals, such as silver, mercury, zinc, and copper. They are often referred to as silver or metal fillings. Compared to composite resin, this type of filling is more affordable and offers longer-lasting results. An amalgam filling can last up to several years when properly cared for. Because of the metal alloy used, amalgam fillings offer stronger resistance to damage, making them a superior choice for larger areas of decay.

They are specifically indicated in restoring posterior teeth (molars) especially when the decay has extended below the gum line because they are more resistant to moisture/seepage. They are less technique sensitive for the dental team to place and more durable for posterior teeth and therefore are more likely to be covered by your dental insurance.

However, in recent years, amalgam fillings have developed a bad reputation due to the mercury in the material used. Mercury is a heavy metal and some patients are particularly sensitive or allergic to it. Another downside is its poor esthetic appearance. Silver fillings are more noticeable, especially when laughing or open-mouth smiling. Over time, amalgam filling can darken the appearance of the entire tooth, making it appear grayish and dull, negatively impacting the overall look of a smile.

Pros and Cons of Resin Composite Restorations:

Composite fillings, also known as tooth-colored fillings, are made from acrylic resin reinforced with powdered glass, quartz, silica, and other ceramic particles. This type of filling material comes in a variety of shades that can be customized to blend beautifully with your natural tooth enamel. Composite resin offers an aesthetically-pleasing restoration. It also requires less enamel removal and tooth drilling, allowing you to maintain as much of your natural tooth structure as possible.

However, these types of Resin Composite fillings are more technique sensitive which means they are easily contaminated by moisture, saliva or blood in the mouth and therefore are not suitable for deep cavities, especially those extending below the gum line. They are also more expensive and less durable and therefore may NOT be covered by your dental insurance, particularly in restoring your posterior teeth (molars)

Which one is right for me?

A tooth close to the front of your mouth that is easily seen when talking, smiling, or laughing should be restored with a Resin Composite Restoration. For teeth in the back of the mouth that have greater decay, an amalgam filling is the better choice, due to its durability and longevity. If you are concerned about aesthetics or the mercury content in the filling, ask your dentist if a dental crown, inlay, or onlay made up of dental porcelain may be a good alternative.

If you believe you are suffering tooth decay and need restorative dentistry please click here to make an appointment with White Rose Family Dental LLC 

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