The prospect of needing a root canal is never a fun thing. However, it is essential to know some of the signs that this treatment could be necessary. The best thing you can do is to talk to your dentist, but that is not always possible if you have a busy schedule. If you are…
Tooth-Colored Fillings as an Alternative to Dental Amalgam
If you need a filling, you and your dentist can choose between tooth-colored fillings (resin composite) and amalgam. These two have their own sets of advantages and drawbacks. In this article, you will discover why tooth-colored fillings are the preferable alternative to dental amalgam.
What are amalgam fillings?
Otherwise known as “silver fillings,” amalgam fillings are a blend of mercury, tin, copper, and silver. Mercury makes up about 50 percent of the compound and acts as the binder for the other metals to create a sturdy and durable filling. The combination of mercury with the other metals produces a harmless, stable compound.
For the past hundred years, amalgam fillings have been an effective material for filling cavities. However, it has one significant drawback – the metallic appearance is conspicuous and does not blend with the tooth color. Also, there have been increasing health concerns about potential mercury leakage.
The resin composite alternative
In contrast to amalgam fillings, resin composite, or tooth-colored fillings, can match the shape, texture, and more importantly, the color of the natural teeth. The bonding techniques and materials available have made it possible to create a filling that is both effective and more cosmetically pleasing than amalgam fillings.
Resin composite fillings are prepared from a compound of plastic and ceramic. Since the resin is similar in appearance with the natural teeth, the fillings blend seamlessly. They are therefore called “white fillings” or “tooth-colored fillings.” Fillings are important for restoring and protecting a decayed tooth. Since the dentist first cleans out the decayed part of the tooth with drilling, they then must fill the space with a lasting material that fortifies the tooth and prevents further decay.
That is not all…
The primary aim of the restoration is to restore the normal functions and appearance of the tooth. Although amalgam fillings fulfill this purpose well by providing the strength required by the tooth for normal daily functions, they are quite noticeable. Resin composite fillings, on the other hand, blend in well, but they do not match the durability of amalgam. However, the past few years have seen significant improvements in the durability of the material construction and techniques used for bonding.
The bonding techniques of composite fillings basically involve layering. The first stage is to close up the inner layer called the dentin, and cement the composite material layer after layer inside the tooth with unique bonding adhesives and curing lights. In some situations where the tooth decay is severe, and a substantial portion of the tooth is lost, the composite is first created on the tooth, then extracted for hardening. After that, the dentist bonds the material to the tooth or creates a different restoration in the lab.
The final result is a filled tooth that appears and functions like the natural tooth. Although the patient must be careful not to subject the filling to excessive force, the new filling should last for many years.
Advantages of tooth-colored fillings
The advantages of tooth-colored fillings over amalgam filling include:
- Invisibility: The fillings blend in with the teeth
- Quick adhesion: Composite resin binds faster with the tooth surface.
- Preserves tooth structure: The filler is flexible and thus reduces the level of drilling required.
Contact us to learn more
To learn more about this metal-free restoration, feel free to reach out to your dentist for a consultation.
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