As we do not use any mercury or metal fillings of any kind, Dr. Owens uses composite fillings which are made of a tooth colored quartz-like material we use at our office. Composite fillings are more than just attractive, they are environmentally non-toxic because they use no mercury. In addition, they are stronger because they bond directly to the surface of the tooth.
Reasons for composite fillings:
- Decay on a portion of any tooth
- Desire to maintain a white, beautiful smile
- To replace old-fashioned mercury (silver) fillings
- To restore a chipped tooth
- To cover exposed root surfaces (often from gum recession)
Considerations for removing mercury (silver) fillings
Silver fillings have been in use for more than 150 years. Long considered a durable method of tooth repair, these fillings, also referred to as amalgams, are somewhat antiquated in the face of advanced dental care. Amalgams are comprised of a mixture of mercury, silver, and other metals. Although called “silver fillings,” these restorations are about 50% mercury.
Many patients today would prefer a more biocompatible, strong and aesthetically pleasing option for repairing teeth and preventing future issues and this is why Dr. Owens places composite fillings. In fact, replacing silver fillings with composite fillings is something that many patients elect to do for the long-term stability of the tooth. To replace fillings, Dr. Owens removes the existing silver filling as well as any decay surrounding it. Once the area decay-free and cleaned, this tooth-colored material is layered into the tooth. Each layer is hardened or cured with highly intense visible light, and the final surface is shaped and polished to match the tooth. The final restoration is virtually invisible.
Advantages of composite over silver (or mercury) fillings:
- More conservative care. Silver fillings are retained using mechanics, which requires a greater extent of modification to natural tooth structure, which has already been weakened. Composite fillings are bonded to the tooth, which allows us to restore structural integrity without extensive drilling.
- Composite is a mixture of an organic resin with an inorganic filler such as glass or quartz. There is no metal, which means there is less conduction of heat and cold. Because of the insulation achieved with composite material, patients experience less sensitivity after treatment.
- Bonded composite fillings strengthen teeth. Silver fillings, in contrast, can cause further weakness and susceptibility to fracture, especially in cases where silver fillings begin to “leak” and decay forms underneath.
- Composite fillings are colored to match surrounding enamel, which makes them disappear into your smile for the most natural appearance.