The Need for Fillings
According to statistics, even the patients who are the most dedicated to brushing and flossing will probably have to deal with a cavity at some point. One of the most common dental problems, dental cavities can also turn into one of the most destructive if not treated in time. Patients often turn to tooth-colored fillings to address these cavities.
Patients who visit our office to have cavities filled need to decide whether they want to show people a mouth full of dark metal fillings or keep their smile bright and white with tooth-colored fillings. San Diego dentist, Dr. David Eshom, creates natural-looking, high-quality dental restorations that may prevent the need for more extensive treatment later.
To learn more about having tooth colored fillings placed by Dr. Eshom, call our San Diego, CA, dental office today at (858) 455-9151.
How Cavities Form
Every person has naturally occurring bacteria in his or her mouth. If they miss brushing after a meal or before bed, the bacteria combine with saliva to create a sticky substance known as plaque. Most commonly found at the gum line, between teeth, and in the grooves of the back teeth, plaque can form anywhere in the mouth.
When you eat foods that are high in sugars or carbohydrates, the bacteria in the plaque become active. They begin feeding on the sugars and carbs, emitting acids as they go. The acids cause the enamel of the teeth to weaken, which allows the bacteria to attack.
A cavity forms as the bacteria destroy the weakened enamel and dentin layers, causing the tooth to decay. If the decay is not removed from the tooth promptly, it can spread to the soft pulp tissue at the center and actually kill the tooth.
Silver Amalgam – The Traditional Choice
Silver amalgam fillings have provided doctors with the best solution for filling cavities for over a century. While very effective for treating cavities, the dark color of silver amalgam fillings clashes with the white of our patients’ teeth. This causes dark spots in their smiles.
Silver amalgam fillings contain small amounts of mercury. While not harmful to most patients in such small amounts, those with sensitivity to heavy metals, such as elderly patients and pregnant women, may experience problems. Such patients should avoid silver fillings whenever possible.
Silver amalgam fillings require the removal of much of the original healthy structure of your tooth because of their large size. Exposure to extreme hot and cold temperatures may cause them to expand and contract. This leads to cracks in the patient’s teeth or fillings that become loose and fall out.
After decades of using metal amalgam fillings, researchers have found a new and better option for filling cavities. Most dentists now offer their patients tooth-colored composite resin fillings.
Tooth-colored fillings are superior to the older metal amalgam fillings in many ways. They can restore teeth to their original look and function and help maintain their strength. In fact, white fillings are the state-of-the-art alternative to rebuilding teeth.
Today, more patients ask San Diego dentist Dr. Eshom about white fillings because they want their teeth to look natural when they laugh, talk and smile. White fillings, also called composite fillings, are made from tooth-colored materials that restore the natural appearance of a decayed or previously filled tooth. In fact, Dr. Eshom can tint the composite resin to match the shading of your natural teeth exactly, making them virtually indistinguishable in your mouth.
Because they blend well with tooth enamel and don’t look like fillings, Dr. Eshom may recommend them if the teeth to be restored are near the front of your mouth. A composite filling usually requires only one visit, during which the tooth is prepared and restored by Dr. Eshom.
Advantages of Tooth-colored Fillings
An advantage of composite fillings, as compared with other dental restorations, is that they require less of the healthy part of a tooth to be removed to hold the filling in place. This is due to the composite resin’s ability to form a chemical bond with the teeth adhesively.
The composite material has great pliability, which allows Dr. Eshom to easily mold the resin to fit into the cavity. He can then shape the material so that the tooth retains its natural shape and the patient maintains a correct bite.
Some white fillings may be more expensive than other dental materials, but most patients find these natural-looking restorations well worth the additional cost and ask Dr. Eshom for this more natural alternative.
Composite resin fillings are preferable for obvious cosmetic reasons, but if the decayed area is large or is subject to heavy chewing pressure, Dr. Eshom, your dentist may recommend another type of material or restoration.
Tooth-Colored Fillings using Minimally Invasive Techniques
High magnification allows San Diego dentist Dr. Eshom to place tooth-colored filling in the smallest of places. He uses “flowable” filling material that is microscopically injected to the small defects being filled. Since the laser can remove decay microscopically, the flowable filling method allows only the minimum amount of tooth structure removed and the maximum amount of natural tooth structure in your mouth.
Porcelain Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are types of fillings that are placed by Dr. Eshom to restore teeth that are badly damaged by decay or wear. Inlays and onlays are applied by Dr. Eshom to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth when esthetics are of concern.
Sometimes patients visit Dr. Eshom with extensive damage done to their teeth, usually caused by tooth decay. The doctor may feel that a large filling in the area may weaken the tooth’s natural structure. This can lead to cracks or breaks in the tooth, and may even result in the patient needing a root canal treatment down the road.
Dr. Eshom has the option of placing a crown over a decayed tooth, but often the damage does not warrant the removal of tooth structure necessary for this procedure. The doctor aims to provide the most conservative treatment available to our patients, and the removal of tooth structure necessary to place a dental crown may lead him to look at other solutions.
Inlays and onlays allow Dr. Eshom to treat large areas of decay conservatively, keeping the remaining structure of the natural tooth intact. The doctor uses inlays to fill in damaged areas between the cusps of teeth. If the patient has suffered severe damage that affects one or more of the cusps, or the entire biting surface of the tooth, the doctor will use onlays to repair the damage.
Dentists used inlays and onlays crafted from gold for many years, which provided great durability. San Diego dentist, Dr. Eshom, recommends porcelain inlays and onlays, however, because he can tint them to match the patient’s natural tooth color.
Inlays and onlays crafted from porcelain have great durability, and they last longer than a traditional filling. In fact, with proper care, porcelain inlays and onlays can last up to 30 years.
The Importance of Regular Dental Visits
If the edge of the filling eventually pulls away from the tooth, bacteria can get between the filling and the enamel and eventually may cause decay. Tooth decay over time may develop elsewhere on the tooth. Regular visits to San Diego dentist, Dr. Eshom are important because they allow us to detect a problem in the early stage. (American Dental Association)
Call Our Office Today
To learn more about tooth-colored fillings, call our San Diego, CA, dental office today at (858) 455-9151 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Eshom.