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One of the great things about dentistry is being able to enhance patient’s lives so significantly. Allowing people to look better, smile more readily, be free of pain, chew and function normally, live longer and have nice fresh breath for speaking and kissing are just a few of the things we do to improve the lives of everyone we touch. Even the most basic dental procedures are incredibly important – without good dental hygiene and regular cleanings millions more teeth would be lost every year. We hope you enjoy our blog and find the information within useful and sometimes even entertaining.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Is It Time To Replace Your Old Fillings With Composite Fillings?

Spring is here with summer just around the corner!  

With the change in seasons, our thoughts turn to projects like gardening, fixing up the house and maybe even renovations.  If you are in the mindset for sprucing things up, it might be an ideal time to think about refreshing your smile.

A simple and effective way to “touch up” your smile is by replacing any amalgam (also known as silver or mercury) fillings you have with white ones.  Not only do amalgam fillings look dark and unnatural, they present another issue that is of even greater concern.  Amalgams are typically not bonded to the tooth structure and are placed in a considerably weakened tooth due to decay removal and requirement for a larger preparation to accommodate the material.  The metals in amalgam fillings also expand and contract as you eat hot and cold foods at a rate higher than that of your natural teeth.  This expansion and contraction over the life of the filling creates cracks in teeth, making them weaker, and can eventually lead to a portion of your tooth breaking off... usually when you least expect it!    Composite fillings look natural and they expand and contract at a rate much closer to that of  your natural tooth.  These fillings are also bonded to the tooth structure, restoring the tooth back to 90 - 95% of its original strength.

If you’re embarrassed by your old fillings and tired of hiding your smile, ask us about composite fillings.

What are Composite or White Fillings? 
Composite fillings (or white fillings) are made of a porcelain-like material that bonds to the tooth for a tight seal. They are strong, stain-resistant, and colour-matched to the natural tooth, making them essentially ‘invisible’.

Before Amalgams Removed
How are fillings done?
In filling teeth, areas of decay and old filling material are removed and replaced with a composite restorative material.  A local anaesthetic is most often administered to numb the area and make for a comfortable, positive experience.

After Composites Completed
Why do I need fillings?
Once a cavity starts, it continues to spread into the deeper parts of the tooth affecting the pulp leading to nerve damage and may even result in an abscess.  In the process, it destroys the tooth structure making the tooth weaker and possibly resulting in a fracture.  Early treatment is less painful, less expensive and preserves more tooth structure.

Should I change my amalgam fillings to white fillings?
If aesthetics is a major concern, then you should discuss with your dental professional the best options for replacement of your amalgams with either composites or porcelain restorations.  

Remember that the presence of mercury in amalgams alone is not considered a sufficient reason by the dental community to replace them.  However, amalgam was first used as a filling material for teeth as early as the mid 1800's and has not changed much in formulation since then.  There are far better materials available to us in dentistry today.  When was the last time you used something that has not advanced technologically in the last 150 years?  If it appears that the tooth structure is significantly compromised by large amalgam restorations, it may be in your best interest to take preventive measures and replace them before a larger problem presents itself.  

If you are concerned about your amalgam fillings, feel free to discuss this with us.

Your smile will thank you!

Photos taken at Acreview Dental Clinic with permission of participant.

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