One of the more common questions people ask at Northport Family Dental is whether or not we “place those ugly silver fillings that have mercury in them.” The answer is no – we do not and have not for the last 15 years. “Okay, well, then do you routinely recommend removal of my silver fillings?” Again, the answer is no, we do not.
Although visible silver fillings are unattractive, our criteria for removal are based on the condition of the restoration and whether or not there is observable wear, breakdown, or decay. These criteria apply to any restoration, regardless of what material is used.
The removal of an old silver filling is, however, a common request based on the patients’ dissatisfaction with its appearance. But you don’t have to remove the filling to restore esthetics. We can easily improve the strength of the tooth with ceramic or a matching bonded composite resin to eliminate the dreaded “black tooth.”
We use a glass-filled resin material commonly referred to as a composite or a composite filling. This highly durable material is shaded to match your teeth and can be chemically bonded to tooth structure, making it more resistant to fractures and allowing for a tighter seal and improved strength. In selected areas, Dr. Rubin may choose to place a glass isonomer, a unique tooth colored restorative material that releases fluoride, making the tooth highly resistant to decay.
Will a composite filling last as long as a silver filling? Yes. Each material is placed according to a specific technique. The key to the longevity of any restoration placed, regardless of the material chosen, is the skill of the practitioner and proper selection of the best material for the application for which it will be used.
Fillings work extremely well when sized correctly and, when surrounded by adequate supportive tooth structure, these materials hold up extremely well. However, it’s important to recognize that the environment it is being placed into and the condition of other teeth will have an effect on the long-term success of the filling.
Expecting any material to remain functional and not break down when overloaded is unrealistic. Generally speaking, if more than half of the visible tooth is being restored, a filling may be inadequate. It’s also important to note that biting forces increase the further back in the mouth a tooth is, bringing with it increased risk of tooth fracture.
If we find that your teeth show signs of excessive wear, a history of fracturing, or evidence of clenching and grinding, we can talk to you about the benefits of a custom occlusal guard. The guard works by preventing upper and lower teeth from coming into contact with each other, minimizing the ability for you to clench your jaw.
It cannot be stressed enough that regular checkups and cleanings at Northport Family Dental are imperative. By finding and treating problems early on, we can reduce the likelihood of catastrophic failure in the future.
The oral environment is often a harsh one, and we ask a lot of the materials that we have available to us. The forces and factors that were in place when the problem was discovered still exist and continue to act, attempting to undermine our best efforts. Effective and consistent daily home care extends the useful life of your teeth and the restorations placed.
Are you concerned about the appearance of old, dark metal fillings that detract from your smile? Dr. Rubin and Dr. Quinn will be happy to asses your situation and work with you to find a solution that takes all your needs into account.