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Once you have a cavity, it is imperative to get it treated as soon as possible to keep the decay from spreading. You know this or you wouldn't be reading this article. What you may be wondering is whether you are going to get silver fillings or a porcelain filling. The following information will help you understand more about the difference between the two options.
First, we'll briefly establish some common ground with dental fillings in general. Next, we'll cover the pros and cons and the nuances of the two types of fillings: silver and porcelain and why a dentist chooses one over the other. Lastly, we'll explore the progression of a cavity in order to help you identify the stage of your cavity. In the end, you should have the information you need to make an educated choice on what type of filling to get and if you want to get your amalgam filling removed.
Fillings, which are also known as restorations, come in different materials. The type of material used depends on several different factors, such as the size and location of the decay as well as the cost of the filling. Two of the more common options are porcelain fillings or silver amalgam fillings, so here is some information about their pros and cons.
What are Silver Amalgam Fillings?
Silver amalgam fillings were the traditional fillings that dentists used when someone had a cavity years ago. In fact, dentists have been using them for over 150 years to fix dental issues. They usually last a minimum of 10 to 15 years and can sometimes last for decades. The reason for their longevity is because they are made of metal, which means that they present a hard surface. This is just one reason why many dentists perform lots of cavity fillings using this material.
Eating can take a toll on your teeth, since several times a day you are smacking your teeth up and down against each other. When you have silver fillings, they can withstand all of that action. And, despite being called silver, they actually are a combination of multiple metals, held together with a tiny amount of mercury. While the thought of having mercury in their mouth may scare some people, it has been determined that the levels of mercury in dental amalgam is harmless in this context.
Another benefit to dental amalgam fillings is the cost. This is a relatively inexpensive material to use and comes in handy when someone needs a significant number of fillings at once. It is also cost-effective to replace many older fillings with this compound.
What are Porcelain Fillings?
Porcelain fillings are another option for filling in a cavity. They are made of oxygen and silicon that have been compounded into a non-crystalline glass. Unlike silver, they can be shaded to be tooth-colored. Sometimes you do not even know when someone has a cavity because it has been filled it with a porcelain filling that just blends in with their tooth.
Filling a cavity with porcelain requires more than one visit since several layers must be applied in order to repair the tooth decay properly. One of the drawbacks of porcelain is that it does not last as long as a metal filling, meaning it needs to be replaced much sooner. That replacement often comes around the five- to 10-year mark. It is also a more expensive choice, partly because it is time-consuming to build the tooth in several layers.
A porcelain filling is common when there is a large cavity in a tooth that needs filling since it can be crafted to mimic the actual tooth. It is also common when there is a cavity on the flat surface of the tooth, such as on the horizontal part of a molar. Once again, when you open your mouth, you would just see the porcelain as if it were the actual tooth. Luckily, with good dental hygiene, such as brushing, porcelain resists stains well.
When Do Dentists Use Porcelain Fillings vs. Silver Fillings?
Sometimes, dentists recommend porcelain over silver fillings for a variety of reasons. Most of the time, these are aesthetically driven since you want to be happy with the look of your teeth. If you have a cavity that shows when you smile, you may prefer to ask your dentist about a porcelain filling so that you can protect the integrity of that smile. Should your cavity be across a back molar, you may also want the look of a tooth-colored filling so that it can blend in nicely when you open your mouth wide. Since porcelain fillings are applied in layers, they can be created to mimic the actual shape of your tooth, giving them an advantage in certain situations.
At other times, such as when cavities cannot be seen in the very back of the mouth or below the gum line, silver amalgam fillings may be the better preference due to their longevity and durability. If cost is a factor, this may be a better option for many of your cavities. Your dentist at Tempe Smile Design is happy to spend time with you discussing your options with respect to cavity fillings so you can be satisfied with your choice.
The Problem with Cavities
Pretty much all of us at one point or another have had at least one cavity. It is a rare person who goes through their entire life without ever having this kind of tooth decay. Some unlucky people seem to develop cavities on a regular basis, while many others may go for years between them. Here is a summary so you can understand this matter better.
Stages of a Cavity
Cavities are formed when the hard, outer layer of your natural tooth is damaged. Damage happens when bacteria feed off sugars on your teeth, creating acid. This acid then combines with saliva and food to make plaque. The plaque and acids damage your teeth by making holes, or cavities, in the top layers of a tooth until the inner pulp is affected. This can eventually lead to the need for a root canal.
These dental caries can form in both adult teeth as well as in baby teeth. It can often be painful, causing tooth sensitivity, pain when you bite down, and can even show as a hole or pit to the naked eye. There are different reasons that this tooth decay occurs, including:
- Consuming drinks high in sugar
- Inadequate regular dental care
- Constant snacking
- Excess bacteria in your mouth
Visiting Tempe Smile Design can reveal cavities during an examination that you cannot yet spot. That is why it is so important to see your dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups since they can help prevent any dental problems from getting worse. For example, sometimes a fluoride treatment is sufficient to treat a tiny cavity in its very early stages.
Once you have a cavity, it is imperative to get it treated as soon as possible to keep the decay from spreading. First, the dentist numbs the area around the tooth so the process can be as pain-free as possible. Then, he or she will use a drill to carefully remove any decay before cleaning out the cavity. Finally, the tooth gets filled to stop any further deterioration.
CALL US: (480) 829-8200 REQUEST APPOINTMENT
Contact a Dentist like Tempe Smile Design Today
When you are seeking quality dental care, whether, for a cleaning and examination or any sort of dental work, you want to be sure that you are going to a practice that is not only experienced and professional but also warm and caring. Tempe Smile Design is here to not only meet but also exceed your expectations. Call us today for an appointment so we can evaluate your dental health. And once you are in our system, should a dental emergency arise, you are able to take advantage of our excellent response for immediate patient care.