The Problem With Silver Fillings
Silver (amalgam) fillings are made of a mixture of metals which can include silver, zinc, tin, copper, and mercury. Silver fillings are known for being strong and long-lasting, and they’ve been part of dentistry for hundreds of years. However, in that time, dentists and patients alike have noticed some distinct problems with silver fillings that has led to them falling largely out of favor. Some of those issues include:
- Unnatural Appearance – Silver fillings easily stand out from your natural teeth.
- Staining – The silver in amalgam fillings can leak into the tooth, darkening it over time.
- Galvanic Shock – If silver fillings interact with other metal fillings and metal dental prosthetics of differing compositions, this can generate an electric charge that can shock the inside of your mouth.
- Toxicity – Silver fillings may contain mercury, lead, and other materials that can cause toxic or allergic reactions.
- Takes Hours to Set – Silver fillings often take a full 24 hours to completely harden and reach full strength after they’re applied to your tooth.
- Enamel Destruction – Silver fillings require a significant amount of your tooth’s enamel be removed to make room for them, which compromises the tooth’s structural integrity.
- Increased Sensitivity – Silver fillings expand and contract upon contact with hot and cold temperatures, increasing dental sensitivity and putting pressure on the inside of your tooth, thus weakening it further.
For reasons such as these, your dentist is likely to recommend tooth-colored fillings if you qualify.
What Are Tooth-Colored Fillings?
Tooth-colored fillings, also called composite, mercury-free, and white fillings, are fillings made from non-metallic materials. Tooth-colored fillings are usually made from a mix of high-quality resin, porcelain, and ground quartz. These non-metallic fillings offer significant advantages over silver fillings that often make them the more preferred option, including:
- Insulation against electricity, preventing galvanic shock
- Set almost instantly once they’re applied to your tooth
- Blends seamlessly with your natural smile
- Require less natural enamel be removed, preserving the tooth’s structure
- Won’t darken or stain your teeth over time
- Can replace metal fillings in most cases
The Tooth-Colored Filling Process
Before Dr. Nishime approves you for treatment with tooth-colored fillings, you’ll attend an initial consultation. Your dentist will determine if tooth-colored fillings are right for you by thoroughly examining your mouth, reviewing your medical history, and discussing your smile goals with you. At this time, he’ll also inform you of your other treatment options and offer sedation dentistry as part of your procedure if you experience dental anxiety.
Once you and your dentist have both decided that a tooth-colored filling is right for you, we’ll clean your mouth and apply a local anesthetic to the soft tissues around the affected tooth. The anesthetic will help ensure you don’t feel any pain during the procedure. We can also apply your sedative of choice at this time and make sure your sedative is working alongside your anesthetic. Once we’re sure you’re comfortable, your dentist will remove any damaged or decayed tooth material to make room for the filling.
Applying Your Tooth-Colored Fillings
To install your tooth-colored filling, your dentist will apply the resin in layers, hardening each layer as he goes with a handheld blue light. In some cases, Dr. Nishime may recommend applying a crown to the tooth afterwards, to further protect and reinforce it. Once your dentist is finished, you’ll be free to enjoy your beautifully restored smile.
Frequently Asked Questions
The exact cost of your filling will depend on a number of factors including how many of your teeth need fillings and your insurance. Your dentist and the rest of the team at Advanced Restorative Dentistry of Honolulu encourage you to call your provider beforehand and ask them which costs they can cover. Because we believe cost should never be a barrier to receiving quality dental care, we’ll work with you to find ways to help you afford your procedure.
Tooth-colored fillings can last 10 to 15 years before they need to be replaced. The longevity of your fillings will depend on you maintaining regular oral hygiene and keeping up with your bi-annual dental exams with your dentist at Advanced Restorative Dentistry.
Rest assured that your comfort and safety is our top priority. We use anesthetic as needed and can also offer sedatives to help you feel relaxed during your procedure. After your tooth-colored filling is installed, it’s normal to experience some discomfort. However, this should be easy to manage with over-the-counter pain medication and cold compresses.
If your pain feels unbearable or is lasting longer than it should, please call our Honolulu office by dialing (808) 732-0291 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nishime. Your dentist and the rest of our team will do everything in our power to minimize discomfort and ensure your healing process is going smoothly.
Tooth-colored fillings can become stained over time. If you want to preserve the look of your filling, Dr. Nishime recommends you continue to practice regular oral hygiene, see him for regular dental exams and professional cleanings, and avoid foods and drinks that can stain your restoration including:
- Red wine
- Dark berries
- Dark soda
Enjoy A Beautiful & Healthy Smile With Tooth-Colored Fillings
Thanks to tooth-colored fillings your dentist can repair and protect your natural teeth without the drawbacks of metal. If you’re interested in enjoying the many benefits of tooth-colored fillings, or want to switch out your metal fillings for a tooth-colored option, call Advanced Restorative Dentistry by dialing (808) 732-0291. You can also fill out one of our contact forms, or click the button below, and a friendly team member will return your message as soon as they can. Dr. Nishime proudly offers his expert services to his Honolulu patients, as well as patients from neighboring areas such as Kailua, O‘ahu, and Kapolei.