Traditional Silver Fillings
Traditionally, cavities have been treated with amalgam fillings. Also known as silver fillings, these fillings are made up of a mixture of metals, including silver, tin, and nickel, which are suspended in liquid mercury. These fillings, which have been in use for over 150 years, are known for their exceptional strength. When hardened inside of the cavity, they can stand up to the strongest bite forces, which makes them ideal for cavities that are in the teeth at the back of your jaw.
Getting amalgam fillings is a straightforward process that can be completed in a single visit. The procedure is typically done under a local anesthetic, which will help to ensure your comfort. We begin by drilling away the decay and shaping the cavity to effectively contain the filling. The amalgam material is placed inside the cavity and smoothed. Finally, it is cured and begins providing immediate protection.
While strong, amalgam fillings do have a few significant drawbacks. First, they are silver in color, which makes them stand out in your smile, particularly if they are placed in cavities toward the front of your mouth. Patients with a metal allergy may not be able to have these fillings. Finally, the mercury content of amalgam fillings can raise concerns for many patients.
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 perfectly 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 strong 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 washed 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 seamless result.
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.