If you have a cavity (tooth decay) in one of your teeth, the solution is almost always one or more dental fillings. A filling serves to limit the damage caused by cavities, preserve and protect the remaining tooth structure, allow the tooth to function properly again (without pain), maintain pulp and nerve vitality if possible, and preserve the function, appearance, and life of the tooth. A filling is simply that, a material that fills the decayed section of a tooth. The dentist applies the material into the problematic tooth and shapes and bonds it to the tooth.
There are a few different options when it comes to choosing a filling: Silver (Amalgam), White (Composite), and Gold Inlay (or Onlay). The best way to determine which of these will work for you is to talk to your dentist, but a brief description of the pros and cons each option is provided below.
Typically a Silver filling is the lowest cost, requires the least technique on the dentist’s part, and is covered by most insurance plans. However it is relatively visible (as it is silver), it weakens the tooth, and can require removal of some of the healthy tooth to make room for the material.
Silver fillings have many drawbacks. The edges of the silver filling can wear down, become weak or break. This results in the tooth not being protected and lets cavities get started once again. With age, the metal of a silver filling expands, contracts, and can split.
Silver fillings contain 50 percent mercury. They can corrode, leak and cause stains on your teeth and gums. Fortunately, silver fillings can safely be replaced with tooth colored Restorations or Composites.
There are many advantages to composites or tooth colored restorations. Resin onlays are bonded to the teeth creating a tight, superior fit to the natural tooth. Such restorations can be used in instances where much of the tooth structure has been lost. The tooth remains intact and stronger.
Since the resin used in composite dental fillings contain fluoride this can help prevent decay. The resin wears like natural teeth and does not require placement at the gum line, which is healthier for your gums! The result is a beautiful smile!
If your cavity is small and caught early, Dr. Nguyen will use a tooth-colored composite resin to restore the tooth. This composite is stronger and lasts longer than silver-mercury fillings and is far more attractive. If the cavity is large or if Dr. Nguyen is replacing older fillings, she will use inlay or onlay to restore the health and function of the tooth. You can have your silver fillings replaced with tooth colored restorations (onlays). This process requires two appointments.
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