Traditionally, dentists have used what’s known as amalgam, or special metal alloys, to fill cavities. However, modern dental medicine has advanced to the point that Dr. Watson can offer Jackson patients a much better option for filling holes caused by tooth decay: composite fillings. At Jackson Center for Smiles, we would like to educate you on the benefits of tooth-colored, composite fillings, so please let this article serve as your personal fillings fact sheet.
The History of Fillings
Once upon a time, the choices for dental restoration materials were limited. Records dating back as far as 659 A.D. tell us that amalgams (mixtures of silver, mercury, tin, and/or copper) have been used widely for more than 1300 years. There have been a number of scientific disputes (referred to as the amalgam war) over the health concerns of using mercury, but the American Dental Association has always defended the safety of amalgam fillings. Until recently, amalgam fillings were favored because of their strength, resilience, and relative ease of preparation and placement. That being said, amalgams have three main drawbacks:
- They are not aesthetically pleasing, may corrode, and can actually stain teeth
- They require the removal of some healthy tooth structure
- They expand and contract, which can cause teeth to crack
Modern dentistry offers a number of options for dental restorations. The most commonly used fillings are made of gold, amalgam, composite, or porcelain. Dr. Watson prefers composite fillings because they are:
- Can be placed in a single visit
- Require very little removal of healthy tooth structure
- Allow for easy identification of tooth decay nearby
- Bond extremely well to enamel
Composite resin fillings are made from powdered glass and plastic resin, and placed directly on the tooth in thin layers, then shaped and polished. Dr. Watson uses a special curing light source to accelerate the bonding process. Composite fillings are generally more durable than porcelain, significantly less expensive than gold, and do not expand and contract like amalgam fillings. Jackson patients often prefer composite fillings because they look just like natural teeth.
If you have any questions about fillings or would like to visit Jackson Center for Smiles for a consultation, please give us a call.