Cavities are common, and if you’ve never had one, then there’s a good chance that you still might at some point in your life. Fortunately, cavities aren’t typically difficult to deal with, especially if they’re detected and treated early. In many cases, treating cavities is even easier with the help of tooth-colored, white fillings, which not only blend in with your tooth esthetically, but also reduce your risks of your cavity growing larger. If you have a cavity, then ask Dr. James Fondriest, your Chicago cosmetic dentist, about white fillings and how one might be your best option at saving your tooth.
If you suspect a cavity, schedule an appointment at Lake Forest Dental Arts. Call us anytime at 847-234-0517.
Traditional Metal Fillings vs White Fillings
There are two primary reasons why patients sometimes choose white fillings over traditional metal fillings:
- Metal fillings are quite noticeable, as they do not blend in with the surrounding tooth structure.
- Many individuals have concerns that the mercury contained in amalgam fillings may be harmful to overall health.
In fact, many patients even ask to replace their old metal fillings with composite, white fillings. In this article, we’ll explore amalgam vs composite fillings and discuss the pros and cons of each.
Are metal amalgam fillings dangerous?
Though the FDA has deemed amalgam fillings safe for adults and children over the age of 6, there are still widespread concerns that mercury is harmful to your health. The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology states that mercury has been linked to several medical conditions, including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Kidney disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Reproductive dysfunction
- Heart problems
- Hearing loss
- And more
At Lake Forest Dental Arts, your Chicago cosmetic dentist, Dr. Fondriest, practices artistic smile design, and believes that restorative dentistry can be beautiful as well as functional. For this reason, he exclusively places white fillings.
Other Side Effects of Traditional Metal Fillings
In addition to the general health concerns mentioned above, traditional metal fillings also pose some oral health concerns. For instance, the amalgam material – which is comprised of mercury, silver, tin copper, and zinc – expands and contracts, especially when eating or drinking hot or cold foods or beverages. Over time, this could cause small hairline fractures in the surrounding tooth structure.
Furthermore, amalgam fillings require more removal of natural tooth structure. In other words, the treatment is more invasive compared to cavity repair with composite material.
Lastly, metal fillings are more likely to cause heat and cold sensitivity. It’s important to note, however, that temporary discomfort is to be expected after a filling is placed. Generally, however, these side effects subside quicker when white fillings are placed.
What are white fillings made of?
White fillings are made from biocompatible resin, which is comprised of finely ground particles of BPA-free acrylic and quartz. This is the same resin used for cosmetic tooth bonding, and gives your filling a highly lifelike appearance that makes it virtually undetectable.
How does the filling stop further decay?
In addition to filling your cavity to restore your tooth’s strength, a tooth-colored resin filling also helps protect the future health of the tooth by preventing oral bacteria from re-entering the cavity. Composite resin achieves this better than metal because it can be bonded more securely to your tooth’s structure.
Other Benefits of Tooth-colored Fillings
When compared to their traditional amalgam counterparts, white fillings offer a wide range of benefits. For example:
- When placing a tooth-colored filling, your Chicago cosmetic dentist doesn’t have to remove as much of your natural tooth structure. As a result, more healthy tissue can remain intact.
- While metal fillings expand and contract with temperature changes, white fillings do not. Therefore, tooth-colored fillings actually strengthen and restore teeth more effectively.
- As aforementioned, patients report less post-treatment sensitivity and discomfort with tooth-colored fillings.
- Tooth-colored fillings improve oral health without detracting from the appearance of your smile.
Are There Risks or Side Effects?
Tooth-colored fillings do not currently pose any health risks. However, like any dental procedure, most patients feel some degree of temporary discomfort following treatment. Additionally, heightened sensitivity to heat and cold is more common in the few weeks after the procedure. These side effects usually diminish within a few weeks.
What is the procedure like?
When you come into our office for a tooth-colored filling, we will first take an x-ray of the affected tooth. This will allow Dr. Fondriest to determine the extent of the damage. Next, he will carefully remove any decayed or damaged portions of the tooth. This may be performed with a dental handpiece or specialized laser. Once this step is complete, there will be a void left in the tooth. This void is then filled with composite resin material. After shaping the material, it is then hardened with a special curing light. Finally, Dr. Fondriest checks your bite and makes any necessary final adjustments.
What if my cavity is too large for a filling?
The longer you leave a cavity untreated, the larger it grows, which can make treating the cavity more complex. For instance, after treating an especially large cavity, your dentist might recommend placing a dental crown over the tooth in addition to a filling. If the tooth decay has reached the inner chamber of your tooth, called the pulp, then you might require root canal therapy instead of a tooth filling.
Contact Your Chicago Cosmetic Dentist Today
White fillings not only blend in with your smile, but also treat cavities better by offering more reliable reinforcement and protection against oral bacteria. To learn more, schedule a consultation with your Chicago cosmetic dentist at Lake Forest Dental Arts at 847-234-0517. We proudly serve the metropolitan Chicago area, as well as the North Shore and Northwest suburbs.