When the cavity-causing bacteria that live in everyone’s mouth meet leftover food particles, they produce acids that can create holes in teeth. These holes are cavities. When they are small, cavities can appear as dark brown or black spots. When they get bigger, they can be actual holes in your teeth.
The process of placing a filling involves removing all the decayed part of the tooth, and then replacing all parts of the tooth that were lost or removed. This replacement material is called a filling. Fillings can be tooth colored or silver.
TOOTH COLORED FILLINGS
Composite resins, or tooth-colored fillings, provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from the constant stress of chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth.
It generally takes longer to place a composite filling than it does for a metal filling. That’s because composite fillings require the tooth be kept clean and dry while the cavity is being filled. Tooth-colored fillings are now used more often than amalgam, probably due to cosmetics. In a society focused on a white, bright smile, people tend to want fillings that blend with the natural color of their teeth.
Dental amalgam has been used by dentists for more than 100 years because it lasts a long time and is less expensive than other cavity-filling materials.
Because of their durability, these silver-colored fillings are often the best choice for large cavities or those that occur in the back teeth where a lot of force is needed to chew. It takes less time to place an amalgam than a tooth-colored filling, so amalgam is also an effective material for children and special needs people who may have a difficult time staying still during treatment.
One disadvantage of amalgam is that these types of fillings are not natural looking, especially when the filling is near the front of the mouth, where it may show when you laugh or speak.
IS DENTAL AMALGAM SAFE?
Although dental amalgam is a safe, commonly used dental material, you may wonder about its mercury content. It’s important to know that when combined with the other metals, it forms a safe, stable material. Be assured that credible scientific studies affirm the safety of dental amalgam. Study after study shows amalgam is safe and effective for filling cavities. The American Dental Association(ADA), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U. S. Food and Drug Administrationand World Health Organization all agree that based on extensive scientific evidence, dental amalgam is a safe and effective cavity-filling material. The Alzheimer’s Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Autism Society of America and National Multiple Sclerosis Society—all science-based organizations like the ADA—also say that amalgam poses no health risk.
The Mayo Clinic recently stated that dental amalgam is a safe and durable choice for dental fillings. They also note that “there are several kinds of mercury. The mercury [methylmercury] found in water that can build up in fish and lead to health problems if you ingest too much is NOT the same type of mercury used in amalgam.”
The ADA supports continued research on all dental filling materials and would promptly inform the public if the scientific community and government regulatory bodies determined that any cavity filling material was unsafe for patients. Your dentist’s foremost priority is your health and safety. That’s why the ADA encourages you to talk with your dentist about your cavity treatment options and what’s right for you. For more info, visit the FDA fact page.
If you have any questions about fillings or you think you may have one, please contact us today at (719) 473-5122.