When you remove a cavity or decay from your tooth, fillings are used to strengthen the tooth, prevent further decay and to protect the tooth from other potential problems. Fillings need to be as strong as a tooth as possible in order to keep your mouth healthy and functional.
In the past, metals like silver and gold were used as fillings, but with the advancements of dental procedures and technologies, more tooth-colored, non-toxic, biocompatible options became available. Today, many dental filling options exist. Porcelain, tooth-colored plastic, composite resin fillings are all approved and widely used options. The location of the decay, the level of severity, your preference and your doctor’s recommendation all play a part in deciding which filling is best for your needs.
Biocompatible fillings are made from a strong, tooth-colored composite material that can be used instead of silver or gold when treating cavities or decayed teeth. As silver can be made up of about 50% mercury—a material thought to be highly toxic—there is reason it isn’t the best metal to use as a filling. Silver also has the added disadvantage of not being the same color as your enamel, which can be unsightly when conspicuous. The last thing you want is to open your mouth and expose a mouth full of silver fillings.
Biocompatible fillings have the capability to coexist with living tissues or organisms without causing harm. In the case of a biocompatible filling, this means it has gone through careful testing and is a substance that’s non-toxic, non-injurious and won’t cause a negative reaction from your immune system. While some patients may have an allergic reaction to the material, most will react to biocompatible filling as if it were their own tissue.
Replacing Silver Fillings
While there are definitive disadvantages, dentists still use silver in the treatment of cavities and decayed teeth. The main two reasons people are inclined to steer clear of silver – and even replace them when already installed – is the fact that silver isn’t tooth-colored and the possible toxicity of the material, as silver fillings can be made-up of as much as 50% mercury. For these reasons, many patients decide to have their silver fillings replaced with more biocompatible materials.
There is some debate on the issue of silver fillings and its use of mercury. Some people worry that there is a risk of mercury leeching, while others feel that it’s a safe material to use in dental fillings. Currently there is a lack of sufficient evidence that silver fillings are harmful, which is why it is still an acceptable materiel to use.
Inlays & Onlays
Dental Inlays and Onlays are porcelain fillings that are alternatives to crowns. When a tooth is cracked, or an old filling (amalgam filling) is leaking/failing, an inlay or onlay is an ideal way to restore the tooth. Dentists used to have to grind teeth down to nubs and place crowns on teeth, but not anymore. At floss in La Jolla we prefer to keep your teeth intact and restore only the unhealthy or unstable parts of your teeth. Inlays and Onlays are more conservative than crowns for that reason…and they don’t result in that ugly gray line at the gum.
Your procedure will consist of two visits, because we use master ceramists to make your inlays and onlays. As a side note, the same-day crown, inlay, and onlay technology is improving; floss in La Jolla will invest in this technology as soon as the CEREC or other porcelain milling machines can deliver dental inlays and onlays that meet the same high-quality standards as our current master ceramists create. Once your porcelain filling is bonded in place, your tooth will be stronger than it was before; your tooth will be able to bear up to 75 percent more chewing force. And, in some cases, your tooth will be just as strong as it was originally – before it was ever decayed or broken. Dental inlays and onlays are the ideal option for restoring cracked or decayed teeth, as well as for all amalgam replacements.
At floss in La Jolla, we repair teeth using biocompatible composite fillings and porcelain inlays/onlays that are cosmetically beautiful, strong and long-lasting. For more information or a private consultaion, please contact us at (858) 597-9844 to discuss inlays and onlays as a option for you.