A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. If you have a tooth that requires a filling, the dentist will first remove the decayed tooth material, clean the affected area, and then replace the cleaned out cavity with a filling material. A filling also helps prevent further decay by closing off any cracks or spaces where bacteria can enter.
There are a variety of filling materials available including gold, silver, plastic and porcelain. The dentist will work with you to determine which material is best for you, depending on the extent of repair, where in your mouth the filling is needed, and cost. Each of the filling materials is briefly explained below:
- Gold fillings are custom made in a laboratory and then cemented into place. While gold fillings are often the most expensive choice, many consider it the best filling material. Gold inlays are well-tolerated by gum tissues and can last a long time.
- Amalgam (silver) fillings are a more inexpensive choice and are tolerant to wear. However, due to their dark color and need to create undercuts they are not placed in our office. Although we don’t choose to place them in our office, Old amalgam fillings that are serviceable can be maintained for years.
- Composite (plastic) resins are custom made to the exact color of your natural teeth and bonded in place requiring no undercuts, creating a healthier and more natural appearance. While these fillings are less noticeable than other materials, they may not have the life span of other filling materials but can usually be easily repaired. They may not be ideal for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco.
Crowns & Bridges
Crowns and bridges are used to restore and enhance teeth that are damaged, or to take the place of missing teeth. A crown, also referred to as a cap, is used to cover a damaged tooth. A crown not only strengthens a tooth, but it can dramatically improve a tooth's appearance, shape and alignment.
Crowns may be used to:
- Replace a large filling when there is little tooth structure remaining
- Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- Restore a fractured tooth
- Attach a bridge
- Cover a dental implant
- Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
- Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment
A bridge is one method to fill the space created by missing teeth. A bridge is one or more artificial teeth that are cemented into place using the teeth on either side for support, hence the name. This is an option for filling the space created by a missing tooth. A bridge replaces the missing tooth, both functionally and cosmetically. Bridge work is as much an art as it is an exact science. The materials used may be gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all ceramic material made to match your natural tooth color. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and/or esthetics.
A dental implant is a titanium post used to replace one or more missing teeth. Once a determination is made of adequate bone quality and ample space an implant is placed surgically into the bone where the missing tooth once was. Once in place and after the bone surrounding the implant has had time to heal and “integrate” with the implant, a replacement tooth is attached to the post. While implants are typically more expensive than other methods of tooth replacement, they provide superior benefits. Implants are stronger than natural teeth and can last a lifetime. If neighboring teeth are healthy and will not benefit from crowns, an implant can be a more suitable choice than a bridge.
To receive implants, you need to be in generally good health and have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. Non smokers only. You must also be committed to excellent oral hygiene and regular dental visits as these are critical to the long-term success of dental implants.