Lasers are the latest and greatest in the field of Dentistry, and are very useful when used during filling procedures! Using water seeking laser energy, our Waterlase IPlus laser is able to fix the damaged portion of the tooth without harming the healthy surrounding tooth structure. Additionally, laser energy can have an analgesic effect which makes the tooth more comfortable during the procedure. Some laser fillings can be done without an injection!
Composite fillings are the clear alternative to traditional mercury fillings. Composite fillings can be used to restore small to medium sized areas of decay on a portion of any tooth.
A composite filling is a tooth-colored quartz-like material. After tooth decay is removed and cleaned, this tooth-colored material is layered onto the tooth and hardened with high intensity light. After shaping and polishing, the final restoration is virtually invisible.
While the majority of dentists now use mercury-free composite fillings, some continue to use dental amalgam, also known as “silver fillings”. Over the years, concerns have been raised about the use of amalgam because it contains mercury.
Why do we prefer Composite Fillings?
Metal mercury fillings, without exception, microscopically expand and contract over time (just as mercury does in a thermometer). This causes the enamel of the tooth to fracture over time. Enamel fracture leads to tooth fracture. The more damaged a tooth is, the more expensive it is to repair. The expansion and contraction compromises the seal between the filling and the tooth, allowing cavity causing bacteria to colonize the area below the surface of the filling between the filling and the tooth, eventually causing new cavities.
Cavities beside metal fillings likely grow more slowly than some others because the metals in the filling kill bacteria through exposure. But eventually, the bacteria grow in number enough to overpower the effects of the metals. These new cavities are often difficult to recognize on routine dental x-rays because the metal distorts the view immediately around the filling. But if the margin of the filling is not smooth and perfect, then the cavity forming process has already begun. The new cavities develop over time, possibly causing the tooth the break or facilitating the need for a Root Canal Procedure or an Extraction.
We do not believe profound evidence exists showing the mercury is affecting the overall health of most of the individuals who have them. We also find it compelling that if you could actually suffer through reading all of the metal filling related regulations, according to the FDA, EPA, ADA, state governments, and local municipalities, there are only two places where it is acceptable for metal-mercury filling material to exist; Hazardous Waste Disposal, and your mouth. Think about that.
However, we do know with certainty that the amalgams are incredibly detrimental to the health of the tooth. So generally, we believe that if metal fillings are present, they should be removed and replaced with a restoration, porcelain or composite, which will restore the strength of the tooth to last in the long term.
- They look like natural tooth structure.
- They contain no mercury.
- They gain strength by bonding directly to the surface of the tooth.
- They don’t require the severe “undercut” (removal of healthy tooth structure) of a mercury filling, therefore do not leave the tooth as vulnerable to fracture.
- They contain no mercury.
- Composite fillings are not as durable or long lasting porcelain alternatives. The lifetime of a composite resin restoration ranges from 2 to 10 years.
BOTTOM LINE: we remove amalgam fillings and replace with composite because we know (with 99% accuracy) that if the margins are not sealed and they are of a certain age, there is decay destroying the tooth structure below the filling.
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