A dental filling is a way to restore damaged or decayed teeth. When your dentist applies a filling, he first removes the decayed tooth material, cleans the affected area, and then covers the cleaned out cavity with the filling material. A filling will help to prevent further decay by closing off any cracks or spaces where bacteria can enter. If you or someone in your family has damaged or decayed teeth, then Tuscaloosa’s trusted family dentist, Dr. Grant Skalnik, can help with the application of a dental filling.
Understandably, our patients often have questions regarding dental fillings and all of these questions and more will be answered below!
Are Dental Fillings Safe?
The simple answer is yes, dental fillings are safe! The Food and Drug Administration and other organizations of the U.S. Public Health Service continue to investigate the safety of the amalgams used in dental fillings, and while currently there is no valid scientific evidence that shows that amalgams cause harm to patients with dental fillings, we do not use amalgam fillings in our practice. Rather, we focus on tooth colored composite fillings.
What Types of Materials Are Available for Fillings?
As the dental industry is continuously developing, new types of dental fillings have emerged. Today, there are a multitude of options available to patients that create a more natural-looking smile. In general, esthetically preferred options are made of materials such as ceramic and plastic compounds, thus mimicking the appearance of natural teeth.
Of course, the advent of these new materials has not eliminated the usefulness of more traditional materials used for dental fillings such as gold, base metal alloys, and dental amalgam. The strength and durability of traditional dental materials continue to make them useful for situations where restored teeth must be able to withstand more extreme forces from chewing, like in the back of the mouth.
What Type of Dental Filling Should I Go With?
While there is a range of factors to consider when deciding what type of dental filling is best for you, our family dentist is happy to help you decide which option is right by providing details on our recommended types of fillings.
Tooth Colored Composite Fillings
Composite fillings are a mixture of plastic and finely ground glass-like particles that produce a tooth-colored restoration. The most obvious advantage of tooth colored composite fillings is that they look more natural compared to other types of dental fillings. However, they also offer advantages in terms of good durability and resistance to fracture in mid-size restorations that need to be able to withstand moderate chewing pressure. Furthermore, less drilling of the tooth is required when placing a composite as compared to an amalgam, which makes for a smaller dental filling.
Tooth colored composites actually bond to the tooth structure itself, meaning that they can be placed in a cavity, often allowing your family dentist to make a more conservative repair to the tooth. However, with teeth that have higher chewing loads (such as those in the back of the mouth), it is important to know that composite fillings are less resistant to wear than silver amalgams, so they are much better suited for teeth in the front of the mouth, which take less pressure.
Glass ionomer dental fillings are made from acrylic and a compound of fine glass powders that are used to fill cavities, particularly those below the gum line. The material produces fluoride, which actively strengthens the teeth and decreases the risk of decay. Glass ionomers are less resistant to wear and are primarily used as small fillings in areas that don’t need to withstand heavy chewing pressure. They are more often employed in small, non-load bearing fillings such as those between the teeth or on the roots of teeth.
Resin ionomer dental fillings are also made from glass filler with acrylic acids and acrylic resin. In addition to this, they are also used for non-load bearing fillings and have a considerably low to moderate resistance to fracture. Ionomers experience high wear when placed on chewing surfaces. While both glass and resin ionomers mimic natural tooth color, they lack the natural translucency of enamel. Both types are well tolerated by patients with only rare occurrences of allergic response.
Porcelain (Ceramic) Dental Fillings
These can be used as inlays, onlays, crowns, and aesthetic veneers (a thin shell of porcelain used to replace or cover part of the tooth enamel). All-porcelain ceramic restorations are particularly popular because their color and translucency resemble natural tooth enamel. Porcelain restorations require a minimum of two visits or possibly more to our Tuscaloosa office. The strength of all-porcelain depends on an adequate thickness of porcelain and the ability to be bonded to the underlying tooth. These materials are highly resistant to wear, but the porcelain can quickly wear opposing teeth if the porcelain’s surface becomes rough.
Contact Our Family Dentistry
While there is a lot to know about dental fillings, we hope that we have helped clear up any questions you may have regarding them. If you have additional questions, contact our family dentistry in Tuscaloosa, AL and consult with a specialist. We look forward to hearing from you!