Traditional Silver Fillings
Traditionally, cavities have been treated with amalgam fillings. Also known as silver fillings, these are made up of a mixture of metals, including silver, tin, and nickel, which are suspended in liquid mercury. While used over 150 years, there has been some debate as to if these metals can cause health issues.
In addition to this possible health risk, silver fillings stand out in color and can leach into surrounding tooth structure, further discoloring the affected tooth. The metal itself is very durable, but over time it can crack and split the natural tooth structure as it expands and contracts with hot and cold temperatures in your mouth. For all of these reasons we don’t place amalgam (silver) fillings at LakeView Dental Arts. In fact, Dr. Walmsley will remove amalgam fillings if patients choose to have them replaced with tooth colored composite ones.
Composite fillings are a newer type of filling that provides an alternative to traditional amalgam fillings. These fillings are made up of plastic, fine glass, and other materials. One of their biggest benefits is that the material matches the color of the enamel, enabling them to blend in with the rest of the tooth structure. This makes them ideal for visible teeth. They also do not contain any metals or mercury. The biggest downside to these fillings is that they are not as strong as amalgam. While they are fairly durable and can stand up to most normal daily use, they can chip or fracture under too much stress.
The process for getting a composite filling is similar to getting an amalgam filling and can be completed in a single appointment. First, the decay is removed from the cavity. With composite fillings, less of your natural tooth structure needs to be drilled away. This is because the material bonds with the tooth rather than just sitting inside. Depending upon the size of the cavity, and the location, you may not need a local anesthetic. After the decay is removed, an acid etch is applied. This creates a rough texture inside the cavity to help the composite material bond more effectively. The acid is rinsed away and the tooth dried. The composite material is placed inside the cavity and cured using a special light. Finally, the filling is polished and smoothed out to provide a near seamless result.
Schedule Your Appointment
Fillings can restore the health of teeth affected by cavities and protect the health of your mouth. For more information, call LakeView Dental Arts today at (865) 248-2199.