Posts for tag: Fillings
Dental amalgam—also known as “silver fillings”—has been used for nearly a hundred years to treat cavities. There are several reasons why this mixture of metals has been the go-to material among dentists: Malleable when first applied, dental amalgam sets up into a durable dental filling that can take years of biting forces. What’s more, it’s stable and compatible with living tissue.
But there’s been growing concern in recent years about the safety of dental amalgam, with even some wondering if they should have existing fillings replaced. The reason: liquid mercury.
Mercury makes up a good portion of dental amalgam’s base mixture, to which other metals like silver, tin or copper are added to it in powder form. This forms a putty that can be easily worked into a prepared cavity. And despite the heightened awareness of the metal’s toxicity to humans, it’s still used in dental amalgam.
The reason why is that there are various forms of mercury and not all are toxic. The form making headlines is known as methylmercury, a compound created when mercury from the environment fuses with organic molecules. The compound builds up in the living tissues of animals, particularly large ocean fish, which have accumulated high concentrations passed up through their food chain.
That’s not what’s used in dental amalgam. Dentists instead use a non-toxic, elemental form of mercury that when set up becomes locked within the amalgam and cannot leach out. Based on various studies, treating cavities with it poses no health risks to humans.
This also means there’s no medical reason for having an existing silver fillings removed. Doing so, though, could cause more harm than good because it could further weaken the remaining tooth structure.
The most viable reason for not getting a dental amalgam filling is cosmetic: The metallic appearance of amalgam could detract from your smile. There are newer, more life-like filling options available. Your dentist, though, may still recommend dental amalgam for its strength and compatibility, especially for back teeth. It’s entirely safe to accept this recommendation.
You always cover your teeth when you smile or laugh in public because of an unattractive metal filling right in the front of your mouth. Wouldn't it be nice if dental fillings not only repaired decay but were completely unnoticeable? Well, they can be, says your Zanesville, OH, family dentist, Dr. Jeff Labishak. Modern dentistry offers so many wonderful treatments that improve your oral health and make your smile look great. Tooth-colored fillings are one of these outstanding restorative services offered at The Smile Shack Family Dentistry.
What is a dental filling?
Traditionally, dentists have repaired, or filled, tooth decay with silver-colored amalgam. While these types of restorations last for years and prove to be strongest for large fillings in the back most teeth, amalgam simply looks unattractive. Also, it requires extensive enamel reduction to stay in place.
The tooth-colored filling and its benefits
Enter the tooth-colored filling. These natural-looking restorative materials composed of porcelain, composite resin (a blend of acrylic and glass) or innovative glass ionomer which contains cavity-fighting fluoride, repair teeth seamlessly and beautifully. Plus, your Zanesville family dentist must remove only the decayed portion of the tooth, leaving more healthy tooth structure behind.
How it works
To confirm the presence of decay, Dr. Labishak visually inspects the tooth and may take digital X-rays to explore the extent of the damage. Then, he usually injects a liquid anesthetic into the area around the tooth so that the patient feels no discomfort during the procedure.
Next, the doctor removes the damaged enamel with various handheld instruments, including a high-speed drill. Again, when he uses composite resin, he removes far less enamel than with metal filling material.
Finally, Dr. Labishak places the composite resin into the tooth layer by layer. He hardens each layer with a special curing light to ensure a strong bond.
Living with a tooth-colored filling
Expect your restored tooth to stay shining, healthy and functional for many years. Composite resin is durable and requires only the simple twice a day brushing and once daily flossing the American Dental Association (ADA) advises. Also, your family dentist likes to see his patients twice a year for check-ups and hygienic cleanings to keep tooth decay at bay.
Come to The Smile Shack Family Dentistry
If you suspect you have a cavity, or if you need your routine appointment, contact Dr. Labishak's friendly office staff in Zanesville, OH today. Phone (740) 454-4112.
Q: I’ve never heard these terms used in dentistry. What are they?
A: In the decorative arts, an inlay refers to a small piece of distinctive material that’s set into a larger matrix: a mother of pearl accent worked into the lid of a wooden box, for example. In dentistry, it means something similar: a filling (or restoration) that’s fabricated in a dental laboratory, and then set into a tooth in an area that has been damaged or lost.
Q: What’s the difference between inlays and onlays?
A: An inlay is made to fit in between the cusps (small points or ridges) of a back tooth (molar or premolar), and it covers only a small region of the biting surface of the tooth. If the restoration covers one or more of the cusps, it’s an onlay.
Q: Why would I need to have one of these restorations?
A: When a tooth has suffered damage (from decay or trauma, for example), and the affected area is too large to fill with a simple filling — but not large enough to need a full crown (cap) — then an inlay or onlay may be just right. Both of these procedures are considered “indirect fillings,” because the restoration itself is custom-fabricated in a laboratory and then bonded to the tooth in the dental office.
Q: What is the procedure for getting an inlay or onlay?
A: It’s similar to having a crown placed, in that it typically takes more than one office visit — yet an inlay or onlay involves less removal of tooth structure than a crown would require. On the first visit, after the area has been anesthetized (usually with a numbing shot), any decay is removed, and the tooth is shaped to receive the restoration. Next, a model of the tooth is made (either with putty or in digital form), and the tooth receives a temporary filling. The laboratory uses this model to create the actual inlay or onlay, which may take a few days; it is then permanently attached to the tooth on a second visit to the office. However, with today’s advances in CAD/CAM (computer aided design/ manufacturing) technology, some inlays or onlays can be made in the office and placed in the same visit.
Q: What else do I need to know about these tooth restorations?
A: Both inlays and onlays are strong and long-lasting restorations that need no more care than you would normally give your teeth: namely, regular brushing and flossing, and periodic checkups at our office. But because they don’t require the removal of a great deal of natural tooth material, they are considered relatively conservative treatments. After a thorough dental examination, we can recommend the type of tooth restoration that’s most appropriate in your individual circumstances.
If you’d like to find out more about inlays or onlays, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers” and “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.”