In our North & South Carolina offices, we see a fair amount of cavities. Cavities are really just tooth decay that develops when plaque damages the outer surface of the teeth, the enamel. It is very important to have cavities treated by a dentist right away, as they will only worsen if left untreated.
Through regular check-ups with your dentist, you can stay on top of your oral care and receive treatment right away if a cavity is discovered. Treating cavities early may prevent extensive tooth damage that will require cosmetic dental surgery to fully correct.
For decades, there was one option for tooth fillings and that was amalgam. Amalgam is still widely used today, but there are other options as well. The components of Amalgam are elemental metals, and may include components of mercury, silver, tin, copper, and others.
You may know Amalgam fillings as “silver fillings” and may also know them because of the controversy surrounding the exposure to mercury. It is important to know your options for fillings.
Tooth decay can advance rapidly and you want to have cavities filled quickly. As a treatment for cavities, Amalgam has been deemed safe by the FDA and other organizations as it is thought that the other metals used in the compound stabilize the mercury and reduce risks.
Silver fillings are best reserved for surfaces that do not show when you smile. Through advanced technology, patients now have the option to receive tooth color fillings for a low cost. Typically, composite fillings are used.
Composite is a tooth-colored material made of glass or quartz and resin. These fillings are durable and provide a more natural appearance than do amalgam fillings. Tooth color fillings from composite material may cost a bit more than an amalgam filling, but depending on the surface where the filling is needed, insurance may cover a portion of the treatment.
In some cases, a custom-made restoration is in order. For instance, when decay has progressed and damaged a tooth extensively, or a tooth has broken and a good portion needs to be removed.
A custom restoration is made from a special mold of your tooth. Often referred to as an inlay or an only, this type of custom restoration is similar to a crown, as it covers a larger portion of the tooth. But it is also still in the filling category, as it does not completely cover. These restorative fillings are strong and may last for several years. Because they match the color of your natural teeth, you never show that you have a filling.
When fillings are in order, it’s best to discuss your options with your primary dentist so you have the most up-to-date information on what may be most suitable for your particular situation.