When you visit the dentist for a routine exam and cleaning, your dentist will look for evidence of any dental caries, or cavities. If tooth decay is detected, a filling will likely be recommend a filling, often times a composite resin to be exact. A composite filling is a mixture of plastic and glass that is used to restore decayed teeth. Because of its tooth-colored appearance, composites are also used for cosmetic improvements. Application is simple, with the material being placed in layers. Typically, a specialized light is used to harden each layer before the next is added. Once the cavity is filled, the dentist often shapes the composite to fit the tooth and then polishes it to prevent staining and early wear. Aesthetically, composites are a great option since dentists can blend shades to create a color nearly identical to that of your natural teeth. And because the material bonds to the tooth, it support the remaining structure, helping to prevent future breakage. After receiving a composite, patients may experience sensitivity in the area, which isn’t the only drawback to this method. Additionally, composites can stain if the patient drinks tea, coffee or other staining foods. Also, in larger cavities, composites tend to wear out faster than alternative materials, such as silver fillings.
Dental amalgam, or silver fillings, is a mixture of mercury, tin, silver and copper, and has been used to fill cavities for over 150 years. Mercury makes up about 50% of the compound, and has been the center of several controversies regarding its safety. While dental amalgams are not the preferred method used at Miami Dental Sedation Spa, some dentists still use them as they have been shown time and time again to be safe. (Read about Dr. Sanchez’s stance on dental amalgam here). In addition to the countless studies that have proven its safety, silver fillings cost about half that of their composite counterparts. Most dental insurance plans only cover the cost of a composite up to the price of a silver filling, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, leaving the rest of the cost to the patient. Because dental amalgam has been around for so long, is significantly cheaper, and is stronger to alternative methods, some patients still prefer this method.
Together, with your dentist, you can discuss your options for filling your cavity and make the best decision for your unique circumstances. Having your cavities filled with any material is better than leaving them untreated, risking the loss of your tooth and other serious health conditions.