Metal-free Fillings Look and Feel Better Than Silver

By: Patricia Woloch

Thanks to advances in modern dental materials and techniques, dentists have more ways to create pleasing, natural-looking smiles. Dental researchers are continuing their often decades-long work developing materials, such as ceramics and polymer compounds that look more like natural teeth. As a result, cosmetic dentists and patients today have several choices when it comes to selecting materials to repair missing, worn, damaged or decayed teeth.
Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity and cost of dental restorations. These factors include the patient's oral and general health; the components used in the filling material; where and how the filling is placed; the chewing load that the tooth will have to bear; and the length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth. With so many choices, how do you know what's right for you? A highly trained and artistic cosmetic dentist will assess your dental needs and then discuss treatment options with you at the time of your visit.

Composite Fillings

Composite fillings are a mixture of glass or quartz filler in a resin medium that produces a tooth-colored filling. They are sometimes referred to as composites or filled resins. Composite fillings provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small-to-mid size restorations that need to withstand moderate chewing pressure. Less tooth structure is removed when the dentist prepares the tooth, and this may result in a smaller filling than that of an amalgam. Composites can also be "bonded" or adhesively held in a cavity, often allowing the dentist to make a more conservative repair to the tooth.

The cost of metal-free fillings is moderate and depends on the size of the filling and the technique used by the dentist to place it in the prepared tooth. It generally takes longer to place a composite filling than what is required for an amalgam filling. Composite fillings require a cavity that can be kept clean and dry during filling, and they are subject to stain and discoloration over time.

Aside from the mercury controversy that has always surrounded the use of amalgam fillings, metal-free fillings provide several advantages over amalgam including:

&bullThey do not expand in heat like the metal in amalgam and thus do not weaken teeth.
&bullThey are more aesthetically appealing.
&bullThey are bonded to the tooth, which holds it together and prolongs its life. In contrast, amalgam fillings are simply packed tightly into the cavity, putting outward pressure on the tooth perimeter
&bullLess healthy tooth tissue needs to be removed because the cavity does not have to be shaped to hold in the un-bonded amalgam.

Dental Surgery
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