Frequently asked questions about fillings (white, silver/mercury)
- Amalgam fillings – amalgam fillings (sometimes called “silver fillings”) are a mixture of mercury liquid and small pieces of silver or other metals such as copper, tin and zinc. Amalgams have many disadvantages. Amalgam is a metal, which expands or contracts with hot, cold and biting. Therefore, with every meal the teeth are weakened and over time and depending on the size of the filling the tooth becomes susceptible to fracturing. Amalgam fillings also require special attention because they contain mercury, which is a very toxic element. The specialty literature is not very clear about the amount of mercury that is released from amalgam and the long-term effects on the entire body. The safety of amalgam fillings has been discussed for a number of years due to concerns regarding the absorption of mercury contributing to several diseases, including Alzheimer, multiple sclerosis, dementia and arthritis.
- Composite resin fillings – composite resins are a tooth-colored plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide). Introduced in the 60s, dental composites were limited only to the front teeth because they were not strong enough to withstand the pressure and wear generated by the back teeth. Since then, composites have been significantly improved and can also be successfully placed on the back teeth. Composites are not only used for restoring decay, but are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping malformed teeth. There is no known health risk generated by the placement of composite fillings. Composite resin fillings were created as an alternative to traditional metal fillings. Teeth fillings colored to look like natural teeth are known as composite resin fillings and are made of plastic dental resin. Composite resin fillings are strong, durable, and created for a very natural looking smile.
- Porcelain Inlays and Onlays – the real advances have been obtained in laboratory by processing white porcelain fillings called inlay or onlay. They are beautiful, strong, and long lasting. The cost is similar to gold inlays or onlays. Like most things in life, if there is more value, there is more cost, but they are worth it if you want solid white fillings instead of unaesthetic metal.
Amalgam fillings, bonding and composite resin fillings can not be bleached. If you are not satisfied with the look, it is time to replace those restorations with newer, more aesthetic materials. Silver fillings (“amalgam”) are history. There are many methods to reconstruct teeth with materials that virtually disappear and blend with the natural color of your teeth. Remember, replace these fillings and restorations only after whitening in order to obtain a new improved color of your natural teeth. You may also consider replacing old fillings with tooth-colored restorations or porcelain veneers.
After preparation, we place the composite in layers using a special light to harden each layer. When the process is completed, we shape the composite to fit the tooth. Afterwards we polish the composite to prevent staining and premature wear.
In case of larger cavities or destroyed areas, inlays or onlays may be indicated to cover more of the tooth’s surface. These restorations are indirect because they require two visits and fabrication in our dental laboratories. The ceramic restorations are much more expensive and therefore composite fillings in one visit are usually preferred. Ceramic restorations are much more durable and will not stain. Practically, the final outcome with ceramic is spectacular. White inlays and onlays are stuck onto the tooth and at present there is a research body that claims that because of this the tooth becomes stronger after such a procedure, less prone to problems.