Your dentist found a cavity? Not to worry, dental fillings are a great way to restore health to teeth with smaller cavities, outlived restorations, or fractures. At Cameo Dental, we primarily use two materials for most dental fillings: a tooth colored material called composite, and a silver colored material called amalgam. Your dentist will discuss which is the best filling material for you by considering the position and location of the restoration, its function and aesthetics, as well as your oral and general health.
Will It Hurt?
A dental filling is a relatively minor procedure, and the Cameo Dental team will make ever effort to make your appointment comfortable and virtually pain free. We take the time to explain to you what is happening so that you know what to expect. Your dentist will use topical and local anesthetics to eliminate any painful sensation from the area. For anxious patients, we offer nitrous oxide sedation in all of our treatment rooms.
Once you are numb and comfortable, your dentist will simply remove any decayed or compromised tooth structure with special instruments, and restore the tooth with the chosen material. And that’s it! If you end up requiring several fillings in one area, they can often be completed in a single appointment.
Dental Composite (Tooth Colored Fillings)
Most commonly, your Cameo Dental dentist will recommend a composite, or tooth colored, filling. Dental composite is a tooth colored resin that is initially soft but becomes hard and strong when exposed to a narrow spectrum of blue light. Composite fillings are bonded, or “glued” to the tooth structure at a microscopic level.
The advantages of composite fillings are that they can often be kept smaller, and they are available in many shades to match your smile. The main disadvantage of dental composite is that the tooth must be kept very dry in order for the filling to successfully bond to the tooth. If the cavity is very deep, in a hard to reach place, if the gums are swollen and bleeding, or if the patient is unable to stay open or hold still, a composite filling would not be the best choice. Composite fillings must be kept very clean around the edges, so good oral hygiene is a must!
Dental Amalgam (Silver Fillings)
Dental amalgam, or silver filling material, is a safe, affordable, and long lasting option for restoring teeth. Amalgam fillings are able to harden even in the presence of fluids, and they are an excellent option in areas that are hard to reach or keep dry, or for patients that are unable to hold still or stay open. They are very durable, which can make them a great choice for teeth in the back of the mouth where forces are especially heavy. There is also some evidence that amalgam fillings are slightly less prone to reinfection along the edges than composite fillings. However, in the absence of good dental hygiene, dental amalgams will still develop recurrent decay.
The main disadvantage of dental amalgam is that it must be held in the tooth mechanically, and it must be a minimum thickness for strength. This may mean that your dentist has to remove some healthy tooth structure to hold the filling in place. Dental amalgams are also unaesthetic, and can stain/darken a tooth over time.
Dental amalgam is comprised of a mixture of metals such as silver, copper and tin, in addition to elemental mercury, which binds these components together into a hard and stable substance. While dental amalgam is a safe and commonly used restorative material, some patients have concerns over its mercury content. There is an extensive and credible body of scientific evidence showing that dental amalgam is a safe and effective filling material. The American Dental Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U. S. Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, Alzheimer’s Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Autism Society of America, and National Multiple Sclerosis Society all agree that dental amalgam fillings do not pose significant health risks. Click here for more information.