We are a mercury-free practice. However, many people still have silver/mercury fillings in their mouths from years past. These fillings are not particularly pleasing to the eye, and we know that by unavoidable design, silver/mercury fillings ultimately result in a weaker tooth structure. Porcelain inlays and tooth colored restorations (onlays) create fillings that are not only beautiful (or unnoticeable) but also add strength to weakened teeth. These restorations are esthetically pleasing and very strong thanks to the latest in bonding technologies.
Disadvantages of Silver Fillings:
Silver fillings have many drawbacks. The edges of a silver filling can wear down, become weak, or break. This results in the tooth not being protected, allowing the decay process to begin again. With age, the metal of a silver filling expands, contracts, and can split.
Silver fillings contain 50 percent mercury. They can corrode, leak, and cause stains on your teeth and gums. Fortunately, silver fillings can safely be replaced with tooth-colored restorations.
Advantages of Tooth-Colored Restorations:
There are many advantages to tooth-colored restorations. These restorations are bonded to the teeth, creating a tight, ideal fit to the natural tooth. Some of these restorations can be used in instances where much of the tooth structure has been lost, leaving the remaining tooth stronger than before.
Since the resins used in some tooth-colored restorations contain fluoride, they can help prevent decay. The resin wears like natural teeth and does not require placement at the gum line, which is healthier for your gums!
Once decay and/or failing existing restorations are removed, tooth-colored restorations can be made in one of two ways: directly or indirectly. Your dentist will decide which is best for each tooth depending on several factors. We will detail both options below. Either way, the result is a beautiful and healthy smile!
Direct Tooth-Colored Restorations:
Direct restorations are placed by a dentist immediately following removal of any decay or faulty existing fillings. Once the tooth is clean and appropriately shaped, composite resin material is placed and is shaped to mimic the natural tooth structure. The shade of composite material is custom matched to each individual tooth to ensure that the filling is as undetectable as possible.
Indirect (Laboratory-Made) Tooth-Colored Restorations:
Depending on the size of restoration required, your dentist may decide that an indirect restoration is the best option for you. These inlays and onlays are custom made by dental laboratories and then bonded to the teeth by your dentist. This process requires two appointments.
2. A digital scan or an impression is made of your teeth. This allows for fabrication of your custom inlay/onlay by the dental lab technician.
3. A temporary inlay/onlay is placed to protect the tooth and hold space for the final restoration..
2. A conditioning gel is placed on your tooth to prepare it for the new restoration.
3. Bonding cement is placed on the tooth, and a high intensity light bonds the resin to the tooth.
4. The tooth is given a final polish.
Using these methods and materials, your teeth are restored to a natural look and feel, and they are stronger and protected!