About 96% of US adults experience tooth decay (cavities) at some point in their lives. Fillings are used to repair small cavities, making the tooth whole again and preventing further decay. In the past, fillings were made of metal amalgam, so-called silver fillings. Some dentists still use amalgam, but Dr. Nelson Clements uses tooth-colored fillings, which are not only more attractive, they can be healthier for your teeth, you, and the environment.
If you are looking for tooth-colored fillings in Valdosta, GA, please call (229) 242-5511 or email for an appointment with Dr. Clements today.
Two Types of Tooth-Colored Fillings
In addition to many other cosmetic dentistry treatments, Dr. Clements offers two types of tooth-colored fillings: resin composite and porcelain inlays and onlays. Resin composite is essentially a plastic that’s been embedded with ceramic fragments for additional strength. Porcelain inlays and onlays are custom-crafted ceramic restorations that are bonded to your teeth. These two fillings are analogous to dental bonding and porcelain veneers, respectively.
Resin composite fillings are good, and highly superior to metal amalgam fillings, but inlays and onlays are the best restoration for your teeth.
Benefits of Tooth-Colored Fillings
Tooth-colored fillings are growing in popularity because they offer many benefits, including:
- Don’t stand out against teeth
- Don’t oxidize and turn black
- Actually bond with teeth, creating tight seal
- Insulate better against hot and cold
- Don’t expand or contract too fast with heat or cold
- Don’t contain toxic mercury
Metal amalgam fillings start out silver, which means, at best, that people will be able to see you’ve had dental work done. Tooth-colored fillings are colored much closer to your natural teeth. Resin composite is a shade close to the color of your teeth, and may be mixed to match precisely. Porcelain inlays and onlays are precisely matched to the color of your teeth.
Metal amalgam fillings often oxidize (rust) and turn black. This means that your fillings will look as bad as–or worse than–the cavities they fill. Tooth-colored fillings don’t oxidize. Resin composite fillings can stain with exposure to coffee and other dark foods and beverages (similar to your tooth enamel, but faster), but porcelain fillings are highly stain resistant.
Metal amalgam fillings are just stuffed into the hole drilled in your teeth. It’s expected that they’ll be held in by pressure against the sides of the hole. Resin composite and porcelain fillings are actually directly bonded to your teeth, creating a tight seal.
Metal isn’t a good insulator, which is why people with large metal fillings often have temperature sensitivity in those teeth. Resin and ceramic are both better insulators.
The problem with heat and cold isn’t just transmitting the temperature change to the center of the tooth and causing sensitivity. Heat makes materials expand and cold makes them contract. Unfortunately, metal amalgam does both much faster than tooth enamel. When exposed to cold, the filling can shrink, creating a gap around the filling that allows infiltration of liquid and bacteria. When exposed to heat, metal amalgam expands, pushing up against the tooth around the filling, contributing to sensitivity, but also potentially cracking the tooth.
Finally, it’s important to understand that metal amalgam is a bit of a euphemism: they’re really mercury amalgam fillings. These fillings are made of about 50% mercury by weight. Mercury is one of the most toxic elements known, and these fillings can potentially pose a serious health threat.
It is important to note that there is disagreement about just how toxic mercury from fillings can be. After all, it’s elemental mercury–the same kind found in thermometers and CFL bulbs–which is less toxic than methylmercury found in fish. The FDA and the ADA have both declared mercury fillings to be safe. However, we know several things about the mercury in fillings:
- It doesn’t stay in the fillings
- It accumulates in many parts of the body
- Bacteria in the body can transform elemental mercury to more toxic forms
- The EPA has repeatedly proposed tight regulations on how fillings are handled after being removed from the mouth
- Many countries have banned metal amalgam fillings
- There is a worldwide movement to ban metal amalgam fillings
Given this knowledge, we believe we cannot justify the use of metal amalgam fillings in our practice.
If you are looking for an expert dentist to repair damaged teeth using tooth-colored fillings in Valdosta, GA, please call (229) 242-5511 or email for an appointment with Dr. Nelson Clements.