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.
No one should be able to tell whether or not you have dental fillings.
Finding out you have a cavity can be downright upsetting, but it’s really nothing to worry yourself about. Cavities are one of the most common dental issues and, if caught soon enough by our Matthews, NC, dentist, Dr. David Feeney, can easily be treated.
What is a dental filling?
A dental filling is used to fill the tooth and restore its shape and appearance so that the tooth looks like it did prior to the cavity. Fillings even have the ability to increase the tooth’s durability and strength post-cavity.
Our Matthew cosmetic dentist offers composite resin fillings. Not only are these fillings tooth-colored but they are even matched to your tooth to make sure that the filling blends in and isn’t too light or too dark.
How is a filling placed?
If you are getting a tooth-colored filling, the composite resin we use will first be matched to your tooth. Once we have the ideal shade, we will apply a thin layer of this resin over the tooth. The resin is moldable so it can easily be contoured, trimmed and shaped. After each layer is placed and shaped it is hardened with a dental laser. We will continue to apply additional layers until the tooth is fully restored.
How long do dental fillings last?
While tooth-colored fillings are pretty durable, they aren’t meant to last a lifetime. On average, a composite filling can last up to 12 years or more with the proper oral care. Maintaining good oral hygiene and visiting us every six months for routine care are two surefire ways to make sure that your filling lasts as long as possible.
Do you need to schedule your six-month dental exam to make sure you are cavity-free? Want to find out more about dental fillings? Then it’s time you called our Matthews, NC, dental office today to learn more.