For generations, the silver-amalgam filling was the restoration for most of us with tooth decay. Most could not afford gold, and a suitable alternative simply wasn´t available. While silver-amalgam fillings still have a place in modern dentistry, they are being used far less frequently in favor of tooth-colored, composite resin materials. These new materials are more esthetic, less damaging to tooth structure and can actually strengthen teeth by bonding them together. Composite resin materials are rapidly becoming the industry standard.

Composite resins are tooth-colored and are runny or putty-like, depending on how they are to be used. However, all become very hard when exposed to bright light. The tooth is prepared either conventionally with a drill, or with a laser, then the tooth is cleaned and a bonding agent is applied. Next comes the composite resin material, and it is usually added in layers, each layer being cured with a very bright light. Finally, the cured material is shaped with specially shaped drill bits to reproduce the natural shape of the tooth. Then, you´re out the door! The new filling is as hard as it´s going to be before you leave, so you don´t have to baby it until it hardens.

Tooth-colored fillings are far more technique-sensitive than their amalgam counterparts. Contamination with water or saliva can jeopardize their integrity, resulting in post-operative sensitivity or failure of the filling entirely. However, when handled correctly, they can provide years of service without the esthetic compromise that amalgam fillings often offer.

We are aware of controversies that regularly arise regarding materials, and strive to stay abreast of current science and recommendations. Currently, the American Dental Association does not recommend replacement of amalgam fillings due to health concerns regarding mercury content.

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