Which Type of Fillings Last Longer?
Fillings in teeth are necessary of course in order to restore tooth substance which has to be removed by the dentist when treating decay. It is essential that all infected tooth substance is removed so as to prevent further progressive caries, and then the cavity has to be filled. The absolutely perfect type of filling material has yet to be invented but modern fillings are much better than they used to be.
For a long while gold inlays or silver amalgam fillings were the only choice for back teeth because white fillings were not of sufficient strength or resistance to shrinkage. While gold in the mouth was acceptable to many, many more found the less expensive amalgam fillings unsightly. Now however, “white” or tooth colored fillings are available which are suitable for use in back teeth with much improved strength and wear resistance.
So instead of having to show a mouth full of metal when you laugh you can show an array of apparently perfect teeth because your Houston dentist can replace the old metal fillings with modern composites that will match your teeth exactly. If you want the most wear resistant fillings possible you can ask about porcelain inlays which are even harder than composite and less vulnerable to staining, although they are more demanding in technique and therefore more costly to place.
There is some controversy over whether silver amalgam fillings are a health risk due to gradual leakage of mercury over time, and so that is another good reason to consider replacing them with tooth colored composites in order to avoid any danger.
Modern composite fillings can be used with an adhesive system to bond them to tooth substance and this has the advantages that cavities don’t need to be so extensive in order to mechanically lock in the filling as is the case with amalgam, and it is also possible to seal the edges of the filling to prevent bacteria from getting in and starting up more decay. This makes tooth colored fillings extremely versatile and more sparing of tooth tissue.
So good is the adhesive bonding that is now used, whether it’s either totally chemical setting or light assisted, that the shape of a front tooth can be altered by adding tooth-colored material in the manner of a sculptor. This can be useful for repairing small chips off a tooth, or making a peg-shaped lateral incisor look more normal, or for closing a mid line gap between the upper front teeth that sometimes occurs. The bonding technique using tooth-colored restoratives allows for many more possibilities to improve the appearance of teeth with the very minimum drilling or intervention; things that are just not feasible with metal fillings.
With the environmental worries about mercury, and the general desire for aesthetic restorations there is little doubt that traditional amalgam fillings, and even gold, are on the way out to be replaced by tooth-colored fillings that are healthier and virtually undetectable in the mouth. Ask your Houston dentist about tooth colored fillings next time you visit as he is able to provide the most up-to-date treatments available.