For more than 100 years, dentists have used amalgam (silver) fillings to restore teeth affected by decay, disease and trauma. While some in the media have cited concern, amalgam fillings are completely safe. That said, amalgam fillings do not offer the same aesthetic benefits that come with tooth-colored dental fillings such as composite fillings and porcelain fillings.
Dr. Jacob Grapevine is an experienced cosmetic dentist in Plano, TX. If you would like to replace an old filling, contact our office for a consultation. Dr. Grapevine will evaluate your condition to determine what type of dental filling is best for you. In most cases, he will prefer to use non-metal dental fillings for both esthetic and functional reasons.
Removing Old Fillings
The process to remove metal fillings is relatively simple. First, the dentist will take diagnostic images of the tooth to ensure that the remaining structure is healthy and will not be adversely affected by removing amalgam fillings. Once the metal filling is removed, the dentist can replace it with composite fillings or porcelain fillings depending on your situation.
Dr. Grapevine uses the Isolite system for many general dentistry procedures including dental fillings. This revolutionary dental device provides a unique, shadowless illumination inside the mouth.
This tool allows the dentist to work faster and maintain a brighter, drier environment. The Isolite retracts and protects the cheek and tongue and delivers continuously aspirates debris and fluids. This helps to protect dental filling patients from accidentally swallowing metal filling fragments and other debris.
Types of Dental Fillings
Amalgam fillings, known as silver fillings or metal fillings, are the most common type of dental filling. Amalgam fillings are extremely durable and effective for preventing tooth decay and restoring damaged teeth, but amalgam fillings can contribute to tooth fracture overtime because of their metal content. For this reason as well as for esthetic reasons, most cosmetic dentists prefer to use tooth colored materials instead of amalgam fillings.
Composite fillings are made of tooth-colored, biocompatible resin. Composite fillings are highly aesthetic and virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth. When compared to metal fillings, composite fillings require very little preparation to the tooth and are an extremely conservative type of treatment. Composite dental fillings are not permanent and may require touch-ups and periodic maintenance.
Porcelain fillings are made from a mold rather than applied directly to the tooth as in composite fillings. There are two types of porcelain fillings: onlays and inlays. An onlay is a type of porcelain filling that covers the entire biting surface, whereas an inlay is smaller and fits within the contours of the tooth. Porcelain fillings are typically used when there is more extensive damage or to restore teeth that need to withstand stronger biting force.