A dental filling is used to strengthen a tooth that is weakened due to cavities, cracks, chips, or other reasons. The goal is to preserve the tooth and avoid extraction. It can also protect the tooth from future damage or decay.
Dr. Jason Baldwin offers amalgam-free dentistry for your overall health and better aesthetics when placing a dental filling. Truckee CA dentist, Dr. Baldwin recommends that old silver, amalgam fillings be removed and replaced with composite, resin fillings, or “white” fillings, to improve the look and health of your smile.
In addition to the developing health concerns about the amount of mercury in amalgam, this type of filling can create dental problems down the road due to the nature of the material and how they are placed.
Amalgam fillings are placed in the tooth after decay has been removed, leaving a hairline opening around the edge. This is done because the material in amalgam will react to changes in temperature, space is left to accommodate expansion and contraction of the metals.
This continuous expansion and shrinkage with temperature can easily initiate cracks and fractures in your teeth over time- and frequently does. Typical signs are increased tooth sensitivity as the forces of biting put pressure in the cracks and damage the tooth.
The breakdown of amalgam fillings over time enables the materials in them, such as mercury, to leak out and enter your body. The effects of mercury on overall health can be wide-ranging, but exposure to toxic metals like mercury can have neurological and physiological effects that are lasting.
While the studies are ongoing in regards to the health risks associated with the use of mercury in dentistry, Dr. Reid has chosen to treat on the side of caution with composite fillings that will also enhance your smile.
Benefits of Mercury Free Fillings
Dr. Baldwin uses high-quality, composite resin or porcelain for dental fillings. He expertly matches the material as closely as possible to your natural teeth for a beautiful result that will restore your oral health after damage or decay.
The procedure for placing a composite, or white filling is less invasive and requires the removal of as little tooth structure as necessary to address any infection or decay. The material is flexible and creates a permanent seal when cured, keeping out harmful bacteria and reducing the risk of future cracks as a result of biting forces because it remains stable despite temperature changes.
Dr. Baldwin can place most composite fillings during a single visit, and even places high-quality porcelain fillings in one visit using CEREC technology. You will be made as comfortable as possible with a local anesthetic and relaxing surroundings while your tooth is prepared, filled, and polished for a beautiful result.
Inlays & Onlays
If the tooth affected by damage or decay is a larger tooth, or if the decay is substantial and a larger part of the tooth structure needs to be removed before filling, Dr. Baldwin may recommend an inlay or onlay. This type of dental restoration is often called a partial crown and is typically made of high-quality porcelain for a lasting result that will strengthen the tooth and prevent further damage.
Dental Filling FAQs
What is the difference between an inlay and an onlay?
We use an inlay when decay remains contained to the tooth’s surface or within the tooth’s cusps. If decay is present but is too large for a simple filling, Dr. Baldwin will place an inlay. He uses an onlay, sometimes called a partial crown, to treat a larger area of the tooth that extends to the cusps of the tooth. It is a single-piece restoration but will not cover the entire tooth like a crown.
Do I need an inlay or a dental filling?
Generally speaking, if the cavity is too big for a simple dental filling, you will need an inlay. With both treatments, we remove the portion of the tooth that has decay, and we fill the empty space with an inlay or a composite resin filling. The inlay will require several visits to place. We will take impressions of your teeth and fabricate a single dental restoration to fit perfectly in the tooth.
How many fillings can Dr. Baldwin do at once?
While there really is no limit as to how many fillings Dr. Baldwin can complete at once, most dentists prefer to work in one area of the mouth at a time. This is because they will only need to administer an anesthetic to that one area versus multiple areas in the mouth.
So, for example, if you have two cavities that need fillings in the upper right part of your mouth, then Dr. Baldwin will fill those during one visit. If you have cavities that need fillings in other areas of your mouth, we can complete those at a separate appointment.
How many times can a dentist fill a tooth?
Most teeth can have three to four fillings. The exact number will depend on how much decay is present and its location. Each time you receive a filling, the dentist removes some of the tooth material. This could weaken the tooth over time. Moreover, most dentists will typically stop replacing your filling when there is more filling than natural tooth left. They may also stop replacing fillings if there is insufficient tooth structure remaining. At this point, you may need another dental restoration, such as a tooth crown.
Can dentists see cavities under fillings?
Yes, dentists have methods to detect decay recurring under existing fillings. Our oral exam can reveal cracks or leaks in a filling. Furthermore, We also use X-rays to spot cavities under fillings. Dentists may also use fiber optic lighting or advanced technologies like DIAGNOdent. These options use laser fluorescence to show decay. Your dentist will recommend the appropriate treatment once they identify a cavity beneath a filling.
At what age does tooth decay start?
Tooth decay can begin at around 6-12 months of age. This is the age when a child’s first tooth erupts. Once teeth emerge through the gums, they are susceptible to acids produced by oral bacteria. Moreover, as more teeth erupt around age 2-3, the risk of decay increases if you don’t start proper brushing and dietary habits for your baby.