Dental restoration may be the most common procedure performed by any dentist around the globe. External trauma to tooth structure or, more often, demineralization due to tooth decay, are the leading problems requiring dental restoration. While accidents happen, tooth decay can be avoided. Tooth decay causes healthy teeth to break down and eventually creates a cavity in a tooth’s enamel, dentin and cementum, which are the hard tissues that form the structure of a tooth. Decay, and eventually cavities, are most often caused by acid from bacterial fermentation of food debris accumulated on the tooth surface. Simply brushing well twice a day can prevent tooth decay.
In the event of a cavity, the tooth is restored by removing the decay and filled with non-toxic material to mimic the structure of the tooth.
Tooth Fillings and Materials
For more than 100 years, cavities in teeth have been filled with amalgam—a stable alloy made from mercury, silver, tin, copper and other metals. But over time, the metals in amalgam break down, creating tiny gaps between the filling and the tooth, where bacteria sneaks in to cause further decay. It can also cause teeth to look dark, grey or dingy, making it difficult to achieve a bright, beautiful smile.
Composite fillings, a non-toxic compound made from resin and ceramic, have become a more popular choice for most tooth repairs today. Durable and long lasting, composites restore strength to the tooth structure by filling the damaged cavity and bonding the material to the original tooth, allowing a more conservative repair.
Tooth colored composite fillings are not only beautiful, but they also put far less stress on your teeth. This restoration material is far more aesthetically pleasing and very strong thanks to new bonding technologies. Composites allow your teeth to be restored to a natural look and feel, strengthening the structure, and the tooth is better protected.
Should I Replace My Silver Fillings?
The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded that both amalgam and composite materials are considered safe and effective for tooth restoration. Though composite materials are more natural looking and can hide previous dental repairs, amalgam materials should only be replaced when the metals are beginning to show signs of aging and deterioration. We recommend limiting the amount of tooth restoration to only when it’s needed.