There are a few things that scream 80s: hair scrunchies, permed hair, head gears, and silver-colored tooth fillings. And while those amalgam fillings aren’t dangerous or flawed, there are some definite advantages to composite fillings. Good news, your Westchester dentist specializes in them! We’ll answer all the questions you have when you come in, and answer some here, too. Let’s look at the differences:
While we usually call them silver fillings, they are a mix of silver, tin, mercury, and copper. Before you think, “Mercury? Seriously? I have those fillings in my mouth!” Don’t worry. The danger is eliminated when it’s mixed with other metals. It’s the only element that binds the others together, and it has never caused anyone’s mouth harm in 100 years.
Amalgam fillings are not without their uses. They are often used for back teeth, since they are quite sturdy and are often placed where the majority of chewing takes place. They are also cheap (which makes them great for baby teeth you'll lose anyway), and your dentist can place them quickly. Another positive point to the silver-spotted smile, is that when bacteria get in around the edges, the silver tends to neutralize it. But because they come from metals, they can tarnish the tooth’s color. And when the dentist is preparing the tooth for amalgam, he or she usually has to drill a bit of the tooth away, compromising the integrity of the tooth. If, later on, the filling needs replacing, there is less tooth to work with. These types of fillings also fill the hole, and then harden, sometimes acting like a wedge. After many years of being in the tooth they can, in rare cases, split the tooth. A lot of dental offices still use them, but some of the best dentists have moved to composite fillings, and here's why.
The most obvious advantage to resin composite fillings is their similar color to teeth. They are much less noticeable (if at all) than the amalgam fillings, making your teeth look healthier and more uniform. They come from plastic and ceramic compounds, and have been used for the last 40 years. More recently, the compounds are stronger. This allows dentists to place composite fillings where you need high durability (like the back of the mouth for chewing or on teeth that people grind).
Resin composites can also be placed in much smaller or irregular places than amalgam. When your dentist places the filling, you need to keep the spot completely dry (which can prove difficult in some parts of the mouth). If any moisture is introduced, the quality of the filling will be compromised. The mixture is soft at first, so it’s easy to adapt to the shape of the cavity. The next step is to bond the tooth together by gluing the resin composite in place. It is then cured (hardened) when exposed to the blue part of the light spectrum. Lastly, your dentist will polish it to avert staining and wear. We can even match resin composites to the color of your teeth! And, unlike amalgam, they will not cause any discoloration to the tooth.
Resin composite fillings do not come without instructions! They need to be kept clean, so be sure to keep up a regular brushing and flossing routine. Otherwise they can get bacteria around the edges and develop cavities.
Deciding which type of restorative material is better for your smile will be up to you and your dentist. Be sure to take into account the location and size of the cavity, aesthetics, cost, and oral history. But in today’s dental universe, there’s no need to have unsightly “silver” fillings, or any other sort of aesthetic eyesores. We’ll fill you in on all your choices and recommend the best thing for you. Schedule an appointment with Advanced Dentistry of Scarsdale today!