Laser Assisted Fillings
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.
- Less Invasive
- Better Results
- Happier Patients
Some laser fillings can be done without an injection!
Composite (plastic) fillings are a better alternative to traditional mercury fillings. Composite fillings can be used to restore small to medium-sized areas of decay on a portion of the tooth.
A plastic 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 a high-intensity light. After shaping and polishing, the final restoration is virtually invisible.
Why do we prefer Composite Fillings?
No dental material used is better than your natural tooth enamel, so when considering which materials or techniques to use, we always seek to conserve as much natural tooth structure as possible.
This is also why we advocate that you see a provider who is trained and skilled at porcelain inlays and onlays vs. traditional ‘drill it down to a nub’ crowns.
When deciding whether to place a metal filling or a white plastic filling it is important to note that metal fillings are not chemically bonded to the tooth. They stay in place due to mechanical retention that must be created by the dentist cutting away extra tooth structure to create an undercut in the hole where the filling material is to be placed. The metal filling starts as a sand mixture that is packed into the tooth and then it is hardened into what you see in your tooth – but it only stays in the tooth because of the undercut.
Plastic composite fillings are chemically bonded to the tooth structure so no extra tooth must be cut away to get mechanical retention.
Also, metal mercury fillings microscopically expand and contract with temperature changes over time (just as mercury does in a thermometer). This causes the margin (where the filling meets the natural tooth structure) to crack, break, and create crevices for bacteria to hide. The fractures are a natural hiding spot for bacteria and allow decay to get through the enamel into the softer dentin inside the tooth. Compounding the problem, the decay under and around the metal filling is not visible in an X-ray since the metal is radiolucent. Luckily, the mercury and tin in the filling are bactericidal (bad for bacteria), so the filling itself slowly poisons the bacteria (cavity) so that it slows the growth of the cavity. But with no X-ray visibility and a highly flawed restorative material, the tooth turns into a ticking time bomb. You may get YEARS of symptom-free use out of your metal fillings, but when you finally can feel there is a problem it’s because the tooth has broken and/or you need a root canal or extraction. If the cavity is addressed early, you can avoid a root canal or extraction and be much more conservative with keeping as much or your own natural tooth structure as possible.