Tooth decay is not just a cosmetic problem; having unsightly dark spots on your teeth not only can make you feel embarrassed about your smile, but they can also lead to future health complications. Treating a cavity as quickly as possible is extremely important to help prevent a nasty infection from settling inside the tooth, and you risk losing your tooth. If we here at Metropolitan Dental Specialty Group detect tooth decay in any of your teeth, we will quickly address it and take care to treat it with a tooth filling to help prevent it from getting any worse.
What Types of Tooth Fillings are Available to Me?
During a tooth filling procedure, we will begin by first numbing the site up with a local anesthetic. That will help prevent you from experiencing any pain or discomfort during the procedure. Next, we will carefully drill into the infected site with our handpiece (also known as our dental drill). We will then thoroughly remove all infected debris. From there, we will want to fill the cavity. At this point, we have a choice of three primary types of filling materials that we like to use on our patients.
One of the more common types of filling material is called amalgam. Made of tin, silver, and mercury, this is the conventional metal-type filling. This filling material is an excellent choice for back teeth such as molars, as it is quite strong. Because it is a metal filling, we avoid placing it on visible front teeth. However, amalgam is prone to expanding and contracting when exposed to heat or cold, making your tooth vulnerable to damage. Some of our patients tend to want to avoid amalgam, as well, due to fears of the mercury in it. We assure you, however, that amalgam is completely safe. Lastly, amalgam does need to be replaced eventually and can be expected to last between ten to fifteen years.
Another popular material that we use on our patients is something called composite resin. Unlike amalgam, this filling material is made of a combination of acrylic, glass, and plastic. It can be dyed to match the color of your teeth, making it a good option for your visible front teeth. It can be brittle, though, so we do not recommend using it on your molars. It can help preserve and strengthen your teeth since we do not need to remove as much tooth to apply it. On the downside, it only lasts half as long as amalgam, between five to seven years.
Lastly, we use porcelain ceramic fillings on teeth that have decay. Porcelain fillings are a great choice for all surfaces, as they are not as brittle as composite, and they are not metal-colored like amalgam. They are tooth-colored, which means we can use them on molars or on your front teeth. They do not expand or shrink like amalgam, reducing risk to your tooth. They are less likely to stain and can last an incredible thirty years in your mouth. It is an all-around superior tooth filling material in all aspects.
If you need tooth fillings, we understand if you have questions about this procedure and what your best choice is. To learn more about fillings, or to schedule an appointment at our office, please give us here at Metropolitan Dental Specialty Group a call at (240) 650-6181 today!