In the past, patients had to settle for metal or amalgam fillings to address their cavities, but you don’t have to flash silver with your smile anymore. The beauty of white fillings is that your teeth will still look 100% natural, so you can smile and laugh with confidence. Our cosmetic dentistry practice offers tooth-colored (white) fillings and can even replace old silver fillings with this newer option. Why have unsightly metal fillings when you can have them white and matching your natural teeth?
If you’re interested in white, tooth-colored fillings, please contact Scott Greenhalgh, DDS in Denver today at (303) 988-9060 to schedule your dental exam and consultation. Our dental office serves clients in Denver, Lakewood, Littleton and surrounding areas.
How Are White Fillings Placed?
Filling a cavity with the tooth-colored material is similar to the amalgam (silver) filling process, but there is an important difference—The tooth-colored filling uses white composite or dental composite, which is used in dental bonding as well. The composite material is soft and malleable similar to putty and is molded into place on your teeth.
Before our dentist applies the white composite, Dr. Greenhalgh will clean your tooth to get rid of decay, damage, and bacteria. He and our team following a precise set of steps to ensure thorough cleaning, anesthetic, and filling the tooth-colored material to your natural enamel. When those steps are done, Dr. Greenhalgh will harden the composite using a high-intensity curing light, which takes just a few seconds to complete. The final step is to test your bite to make sure it’s comfortable, and your teeth are coming together correctly.
The Benefits of White Dental Fillings
The natural look and feel of tooth-colored fillings are the most notable advantage of this material versus metal. Some of the other benefits white fillings have over amalgam include:
- Less sensitivity
- Greater strength and durability
- White composite adheres to your enamel instead of sitting inside the cavity area
- The shade of the filling is matched to your surrounding teeth
- Won’t come loose or fall out because it’s a part of your tooth
- Mimics the look and shine of your natural tooth enamel
- Contains no mercury
Is Mercury Harmful?
Mercury makes up about 50 percent of metal amalgam. With each hot food or drink, the mercury in your metal filling gives off mercury vapor which is absorbed by the body. There is controversy as to whether that amount of vapor is harmful to one’s health or not. You can read more on the FDA’s Questions and Answers on Dental Amalgam and the American Dental Association’s page on Dental Filling Options.
Decreased risk of cracks
The composite filling matches the properties of your natural enamel, flexing the same way that your tooth naturally flexes, thus avoiding forces that might crack your tooth. A metal filling contracts and expands more than your natural tooth does. Over time this can crack your tooth or enable another cavity to start.
Candidates for White Fillings
The only way to know for sure if you should replace old fillings with new white fillings is to come in for a consultation and thorough examination. However, good candidates for white fillings tend to have a few things in common, including:
- Metal fillings that require replacement, either because they are breaking down or because you're simply uncomfortable with mercury or other metallic materials in your teeth
- A desire to eliminate aesthetic issues raised by traditional metal fillings; many patients have fillings in more inconspicuous teeth and as such don't feel the need to replace them
- You don't possess fillings currently, but instead suffer from relatively mild tooth decay that can be addressed through white fillings and dental bonding
- You're experiencing sensitivity from your current metal fillings
The good news is that white fillings present several significant advantages over traditional metal fillings. Patients usually tell our dentist that they are thrilled with their new, inconspicuous white fillings.
When Is It Appropriate to Replace Fillings?
There are two categories of fillings that might need replacing: traditional metal fillings and newer white fillings. When these pieces of dental work begin to wear down, they present unique challenges that require a skilled Denver dentist to address.
Here’s how Dr. Greenhalgh will approach each situation:
- Metal fillings: In the case of metal fillings, the dental problems associated with age and wearing tend to be more significant and tend to show up more quickly. Cracks and cavities emerge under the filling, and it’s even possible to split a tooth along the crack. Our Denver dentist will use his advanced photography and magnification technology to spot the degradation in your filling.
- White fillings: The effects of wear and degradation from white fillings tend to be more subtle. It tends to leak less and the resulting cavities are smaller. This means that if the wear is caught early, the filling can be replaced by another of the same type without much negative effect on your teeth.
Dr. Greenhalgh will thoroughly evaluate the state of your teeth and dental work to determine if you need a replacement.
These days, metal fillings are somewhat out of style; they can be unsightly, and, as noted above, they present difficulties when they degrade. There are a couple of options if you’re considering replacing old, metal fillings.
- If you have a significant cavity, a white filling of the sort our Denver dentist offers is likely an appropriate option
- In certain circumstances, you might need more strength than a traditional filling, but less than a dental crown. A porcelain inlay or onlay might be right for you.
Contact Our Dentist in Lakewood
While silver mercury fillings have performed well for over 100 years, Dr. Greenhalgh believes that white fillings provide an overall stronger, more comfortable, and healthier result.
If you need to repair a damaged or discolored tooth with a white filling or you need to replace a worn metal filling with an aesthetically pleasing alternative, please contact Scott Greenhalgh, DDS, by calling (303) 988-9060 today. We provide fillings to patients in Lakewood, the Denver area, and nearby communities.