Dental fillings – painless, affordable, sustainable

Fillings are considered a routine intervention in dental medecine. However, instead of amalgam which is tainted with mercury, or gold which is expensive and doesn’t meet current esthetic demands, nowadays resins or ceramics are used. The plastics used are usually high-tech composites containing ceramic micro-crystals. Because our office works with the CEREC system, we are able to create fillings from composite ceramic blocks, which offer several advantages over full-ceramic.

After a thorough check-up and diagnosis, we take great care to view the options and choose which material is best for your teeth and mouth. This will depend also on which tooth is affected and also for example, the size of the cavity. Last but not least, we weigh in the relative cost of each option so that we can give you the best quality at the most reasonable cost.

Composite fillings

A solution for small to medium-sized defects are resin-based composite fillings. Instead of using amalgam or gold, which have many disadvantages, we use modern composite fillings which are reliable, maintain their color and shape, and are very durable. It allows us to provide minimally invasive treatment. As an added bonus these  fillings look good too. Composite fillings contain tiny ceramic, glass and quartz particles with a plastic (polymer) proportion of only 20-30%.

Further advantages of composite fillings is that very little of the affected tooth has to be sanded away. Because the material bonds so well with the natural tooth substance, teeth can even be stabilized. There is a wide choice of nature-identical shades and transparencies so dentists can match your natural teeth exactly. Teeth are built up layer by layer to look like your own teeth. The very fine particles of modern composites have a particularly life-like shine, making the teeth look like normal healthy teeth. Using the term plastic for polymer resin composites also reflects the malleability of the material at treatment start.

Incidentally, making fillings is another procedure which benefits from the use of laser.  Laser selectively removes only the diseased tissue and creates ideal conditions for connecting tooth and filling. Thus, the long life of composite fillings are guaranteed.

In general it isn’t necessary to use a laser for fillings, however experience shows that its benefits are unparalleled in tooth neck fillings. Fillings at the neck of the tooth are often an issue as you get older. Gums retract exposing the sensitive tooth neck. In modern times young people too have been increasingly subject to erosions of the tooth neck area, mostly caused by a dysfunctional proportions of teeth and jaw size. These areas cannot always be treated surgically with gum covering fillings.

Because the surface layer of the root is softer than the enamel of the tooth above it, with time it can be eroded from excessive brushing and caries can ensue. As you age this is exacerbated by the decline in saliva production. Composite fillings in the tooth neck area can protect the root against the mechanical effects of tooth brushing and the chemical reactions of acidic foods, sugar and nicotine, for example.

Here again, we can put laser to good use. Many people suffer the recurring loss of tooth neck fillings. They just don’t stay in place for a very long time. This is because the smooth surface of the root cementum doesn’t provide a stable enough bonding surface for fillings and even the special glues used don’t guarantee the filling will hold. With the laser however, we create tiny pinholes on the surface, which give a much greater retention to the root cement – that keeps the filling in place!

Ceramic fillings – Inlays

In case of major interventions such as the removal of several amalgam fillings, inlays are the right choice. Nowadays these are made of ceramic, hybrid ceramic composites or completely out of resin. Traditionally, they were often cast out of gold. Gold inlays are very durable, but are rarely used now. Mainly for aesthetic reasons, but also because of the relatively high cost (laboratory work + gold price).

Thanks to our modern CEREC system, depending on the indication, we can quickly and easily produce inlays, onlays or full ceramic crowns. We also work with composite ceramic blends. All fillings and crowns are completely finished and seated on the afflicted tooth in just one session. Long waiting times or treatment over multiple sessions are no longer necessary.

When we speak of inlays we mean fillings that are completely surrounded by your natural tooth structure. Onlays as the name suggests, lay over one or more tooth cusps. These are also called partial crowns.

Ceramic fillings are bonded to the natural tooth substance with an adhesive composite. The result is impressive, because where the two meet it looks almost like one unit. Bonded ceramic restorations are as hard as the teeth themselves. In the case of fillings tooth structure is preserved, because in principle additional anchors are not needed.

Amalgam fillings – Why they are so dangerous

Amalgam Zahn

Amalgam consists of 50% mercury and then silver, tin and copper. These are all so-called heavy metals. They were used for tooth fillings for a very long time. Amazingly, one of the properties of amalgam is to dissolve slowly. The highly toxic mercury and other heavy metals seep into the body and over time the person is effectively being poisoned. This toxic state can trigger diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, rheumatism and many other ailments.

Amalgam fillings also have mechanical disadvantages. They oxidize over time and go black. Also, they leave micro-fissures in the teeth and along filling edges. Teeth can break unexpectedly after years of wear. At that point you can save the tooth with a crown, but at worst the tooth might need to be extracted. This is the case if the breakage reaches into the root.

It is highly recommended that all amalgam fillings be replaced with an appropriate filling made of resin, composite or ceramic in a safe and professional way, as soon as possible, by the dentist.