When decay is not too serious, dentists can remove it and restore the tooth with a filling, but with which material?
Dental decay is a quite common condition that happens when the enamel and the dentine of a tooth become softened by acid attack, producing a cavity. An early treatment allows your dentist to remove the caries before the lesion spreads and becomes a major hazard to your dental health. Once it is removed, the dentist places a filling material to the teeth to restore it and prevent more cavities from forming.
There are, in dentistry, two main materials used as restorative fillings, which have different components as well as different advantages: amalgam and composite.
Amalgam – also known as silver filling– is the traditional material, composed primarily of silver, copper, zinc and tin, mixed with a small amount of liquid mercury. It has been used for over 150 years as the Standard of Care for dental restoration, but is today subject to controversy and debate due to the questionable properties of liquid mercury. Known as a very toxic substance at high doses, liquid mercury is included in very small amounts to the amalgam filling material, thus being safe to use in both children and adults. It does have some advantages, such as being less expensive, easier and faster to place than composite, or reducing the chances of recurrent caries. However, one of the reasons for dentists to recommend composite over amalgam is that silver fillings slightly push teeth apart as the dentist places it and as the restoration ages; something that doesn’t happen with composite.
Resin or composite fillings are white-tooth coloured materials consisting on a mixture of powdered glass and plastic resin, which self-hardens after it’s placed in the tooth –just as amalgam– or with exposure to blue light. A part from offering much better aesthetic results, composite fillings need less tooth structure to be removed in order to place them and present a much lesser chance of tooth fracturing as the filling is bonded to the tooth, giving it greater strength and holding it together. Composite fillings match the natural tooth’s shade and become almost invisible, so dentists recommend patients with stained teeth to undergo any bleaching procedures –in-office laser or at-home treatments with teeth whitening kits– before having their composite fillings placed.
Failing to treat caries can lead to very severe dental decay problems. When the decay cannot be removed by a dentist, severe infections and tooth loss can occur. In these cases, Teeth straightening prevention are essential to put a stop to major risks for your dental and general health. A gap in your teeth is not only an aesthetic issue, but a window open to gum infections and bone loss.
As health is always the most important issue, fillings can help you stop cavities and prevent decay to hazard your wellbeing.