Correct tooth decay with fillings at Siana Dental in Hampton VIC
A choice of materials is offered including white and gold fillings. Amalgam (grey/black) fillings are not offered because of their mercury content, lack of adhesion and appearance.
A composite resin is a tooth-coloured plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide). Composites are not only used to restore decayed areas but are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the colour of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.
Their main advantages are:
- They are available in many shades of tooth colours, and can be mixed and matched to create the exact colour of the part of the tooth being replaced.
- They are a resin, and thus the dentist only needs to remove the damaged/decayed part of the teeth prior to filling. In other words, all healthy tooth structure can be preserved. This is not the case for amalgam fillings.
- They are bonded/glued to the tooth and increase the strength and structure of the tooth.
- They are cured by an ultra-violet light and set hard immediately.
- They do not contain mercury (see below).
The disadvantage of composite resin is that, on the front teeth, it does have to be replaced after several years due to colour changes. The colour changes occur from coffee, tea, red wine or smoking.
Most people recognise dental amalgams as silver fillings. Dental amalgam is a mixture of mercury, and an alloy of silver, tin and copper. Mercury makes up about 45-50 percent of the compound. Mercury is used to bind the metals together and to provide a strong, hard durable filling.
Why do dentists use dental amalgams?
Dental amalgam has withstood the test of time, which is why it is still in use. It has a 150-year proven track record and is the least expensive material to a fill a cavity.
One property of amalgam which is causing particular problems nowadays is their failure to bond to tooth structure. Over the years, this leads to microfractures and cracks in teeth. It is now not uncommon for many patients to suffer with cracked tooth syndrome under amalgam filled teeth.
Is mercury in dental amalgam safe?
The amount of mercury released in the mouth under the pressure of chewing and grinding is extremely small and no cause for alarm. However, links remain between levels of mercury in the brain and body, and the occurrence of Alzheimer’s Disease, gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances, concentration problems, memory disturbances, lack of initiative, restlessness, bleeding gums and other mouth disorders.
Due to the uncertainty over the safety of mercury and its lack of structural support, we at Siana Dental will only use dental amalgam when no other materials are viable. We believe that all other alternative dental fillings must be explored first.
Porcelain is a non-crystalline glass composed of silicon and oxygen. It has the advantage of being highly aesthetic, and is the restoration of choice for people who place the highest value in the appearance of their teeth. Although bonded to the tooth, porcelain has the disadvantage of being brittle and therefore susceptible to breakage. It is also even more technique sensitive to use than composite, requires two dental visits to place the filling, and costs significantly more than amalgam or composite fillings. Porcelain can also cause accelerated wear of the opposing tooth when biting.
Gold is not used in its pure form (because it is too soft), but as an alloy containing 75% gold, as well as copper, silver, platinum, palladium, and zinc. Gold is extremely durable and does not damage the opposing tooth when biting. It is very well tolerated by the gums and other intra-oral tissues. Gold is bonded to the tooth and increases its overall strength. It is not brittle and will not fracture. A gold filling can last four times longer than any other dental material. Some like the aesthetics of gold whilst it is a cause for concern for others. Gold fillings, like porcelain, take two dental visits to complete and are also much more costly than amalgam or composite.