Most people who look in their mouths can spot at least one silver filling, maybe more. That’s because until recent years, fillings were made out of amalgam or a combination of different metals that filled areas of decay to protect the tooth and prevent further damage. But the silver isn’t exactly an attractive look to teeth and turns out, they aren’t the best way to protect teeth either.
A better method has been developed for filling cavities that not only look more like your natural teeth, but they react more like the natural teeth. Both are extremely important for patients who want to keep their teeth and smile as natural as possible. So what are these new fillings and composites that are changing the way dentists take care of dental carries? Dentists are using materials such as composite resins and porcelains in restorative dental procedures and treatments for dental carries.
Parts of the tooth
The external part of the tooth is the enamel which is the hardest part of the tooth and does not possess any living tissue so there is no feeling with the enamel. The inside of the tooth consists of dentin, which is similar to bone. It’s porous like bone and made up of tiny tubes of collagen. The dentin is living tissue and highly sensitive to feeling by way of the pulp and nerves that run right in the middle of the tooth.
Why Composite resins and porcelains work better
Metallic fillings or amalgams can’t bond with the tooth. They simply sit on the tooth and only offer a certain level of protection. The resin materials actually bond to the different parts of the tooth, giving it an overall better bond and protection. It is also more comfortable for patients because it reacts like the natural teeth when chewing and biting. It is able to pass biting stress tests and handle excessive biting force.
Procedures it is used for include:
• Immediate dentin sealing - A procedure that uses resin as a coating for protecting the dentin from both bacteria and sensitivity issues. The sealing will also create a medium from which composite resin can be used for shaping the tooth’s structure.
• Dentin build-up - This procedure is the layering of the resin material to fill spaces in the tooth and then the dentist can be reshaped. When metal or amalgam is used, the dentist has to use undercuts to hold the metal in place. When this is done, parts of the healthy tooth have to be removed which can weaken the tooth and put it at risk of future cracks or breaks. This is why dentin build-ups using resin is a better solution. There is no use of undercuts and therefore the healthy tooth is preserved.
There are three different types of methods for repairing teeth with fillings or restoring materials, such as the resin: Direct, Semi-Direct and Indirect. Your dentist will decide which method is best for your situation since each has its own benefits and negatives.
Here is a little information on each:
Direct fillings - This method only uses small amounts of the resin or filling material and it is placed directly into the cavity where the decay was found. It’s applied in layers to fill the area and once it has been applied, a special light is used to set the material. This procedure requires only one visit. Everything is done same-day.
Semi-Direct fillings - Semi-direct is similar to the direct in that there are layers of the resin applied to the tooth but in this process, the restorative portion is then removed from the mouth and once the is set (dry), the dentist will then bond it to the tooth. New technology lets the dental and dental professionals make more durable restoration pieces in-office without having to send them out to labs and wait for them for weeks. This is done using what’s known as the CAD/CAM (Computer Assisted Design/Computer Assisted Milling) program.
Indirect fillings - For complicated, more involved restoration processes, Indirect fillings is the process of choice. This process is used when there isn’t enough of the healthy tooth left to even fill it. Your dentist will basically need to create a large restoration piece to replace the part of the tooth that is visible, or he may need to crown the tooth. These types of procedures do require the use of outside labs, so it will require more than one visit to your dentist.
Giving your teeth a more reliable, natural looking repair is important so that you can keep your beautiful smile looking beautiful. These are also healthier choices for your teeth in that your teeth are at lower risk of further damage when they are better protected. Call Oasis Dental in Rancho Cucamonga to set up an appointment to talk to Dr. Pinky Penalosa about your dental restoration needs.