Composite Fillings

If you’re one of the many patients who prefer mercury-free amalgam fillings, you’ll be happy to know that Lawton C. E. Wong, DDS, Inc. can accommodate your request. Lawton C. E. Wong, DDS, Inc. can improve your oral health and your smile by repairing or replacing your natural teeth with amalgam-free materials. Amalgam-free options are available for many dental procedures, including fillings and crowns. And should you need more involved treatments like root canal therapy or tooth implants, Lawton C. E. Wong, DDS, Inc. can work with you to develop a customized treatment plan that is mercury-free.

 

  
 

White Composite Fillings

 
This is a traditional amalgam filling before treatment This is a while composite filling after treatment

One of the disadvantages of the traditional silver amalgam filling is the way it looks....
 

  • A cavity forms when the bacteria in your mouth eats away the enamel of the tooth. In this drawing, the bacteria has started a colony and has almost penetrated the enamel layer.
  • Enamel is the hardest living substance in the human body. Around 96 percent of enamel consists of hard inorganic hydroxyapatite, a crystalline calcium phosphate, similar to bone. Since bone has only around 50% inorganic hydroxyapatite, enamel is stronger than bone. Around 4 percent of enamel is water plus organic material.

    This photo shows a classic cone shape invasion of the bacteria eating away the enamel. At this point in time, there usually isn't any pain. This is easily detected on routine dental x-rays. This this case, it is very important to fill the cavity before it can get worse.
  • This is a preparation drawing. The cavity has been removed at this point.
  • This drawing shows the classic amalgam filling. Amalgams were the standard restoration of choice at one time. The problem with amalgam is that this is predominately mercury (50%) with silver (~22-32% ), tin (~14%), copper (~8%), and other trace metals filling. Due to health concerns, amalgam restorations have fallen out of favor as the restorative material of choice.
  • As technology improved, better restorative materials became available. The white or composite filling shown here is esthetically nicer, but protects the tooth better. Composites bond to enamel and dentin forming a tighter seal.
Unlike metal amalgams fillings, you are less likely to get "shocked" when eating something too hot or too cold. Metal fillings simply conduct thermal changes better. For example, if you eat something hot, the metal gets hot too. When the metal gets hot, it heat up the inside of the tooth causing pain. Since composites are not metal, you are less likely to be sensitive to hot and cold changes as metal amalgam fillings.
  • It is much better to catch and treat a small cavity than it is to treat a big one. It is better to treat a big cavity before the bacteria invades the pulp and causes an abscess.
Unfortunately, large or severe decay is not always associated with pain. Many times, patient will not feel anything is wrong until the cavity gets too big. This is why it is so very important to have periodic dental checkups. We can detect and fix problems before they happen. Call us. We can help you.
  • If the small cavity is not treated, the bacteria invades the second layer of tooth structure called dentin. Dentin is 70% inorganic materials, 20% organic materials, and 10% water by weight. It is not as strong as enamel, but it is still very strong.
  • After the bacteria penetrates the enamel, it spreads out in a large second cone shape seen here. The bacterial invasion gets bigger and bigger with time. If it invades or comes close to the pulp, where the nerve resides, you may get a toothache.
 

I have mentioned that human enamel is the hardest living substance in the body. When you subject a tooth to the acid created by the bacteria, over enough time, the enamel turns into a consistency of mush. We tell patients that have cavities close to the nerve, a root canal may be in their future. They waited too long. However, technological advancements have improved so it may be possible to avoid a costly root canal. The composites we use routinely releases fluoride ions into the tooth. This promotes healthy tooth repair and growth. If enough repair is generated, the tooth may return to a healthy state. We also place a bonding agent that seals off the offending area, promotes healing and cuts down on post-operative discomfort.