In the not so distant past, it was customary that any dental procedure included metals, which is neither aesthetically pleasing nor a healthy option. Luckily, the dental industry has advanced in strides over the previous decades meaning any procedures you choose are likely to go unnoticed to those around you.
What is dental metal?
Dental metal, known as amalgam, has been the standard practice first appearing in western dental practices in 1528. Amalgam, consisting of a mix of mercury is still in use to this day, but a question hangs over its safety. Some patients are actively choosing to have their metal removed and replaced with safer materials because of this uncertainty and also because they desire a healthier looking smile.
What are non-metal dental materials?
Non-metal dental fillings are available in two possible materials at two different price points: ceramic porcelain and a resin composite.
Composite consists of a healthier mix of plastics and glass which is similar in tone and texture to a natural tooth. Developed as an alternative to amalgam, composite fillings are now the preferred choice of filling for those worried about not only the appearance of their teeth but also their oral health.
Ceramic is another modern choice that is renowned for its strength. It is a higher priced material, but its strength makes it the perfect choice for patients seeking procedures with longevity, as softer composite may require fix-ups.
What are the advantages of composite?
Composite teeth appear natural, meaning no one will know you have had any work done. Unlike amalgam fillings, composite fillings do not discolor the surrounding tooth area, making it an excellent choice for maintaining the healthy appearance of your teeth for the long-term option.
Importantly, the procedure ensures the structure of the tooth is maintained. Amalgam is harder than your tooth, leaving you vulnerable to breaks. As composite is softer, you are less likely to break your tooth because of it. In contrast to amalgam, composite attaches itself to the structure of the tooth, restoring it to its original strength.
Composite also requires less drilling for the procedure to be done, an advantage over amalgam which requires an excess of healthy tooth to be stripped away to place the filling. It can also be used to mend small flaws in the teeth, such as chips, breaks, or edges that are simply worn out. Like clay, composite resin can be sculpted to create flawless teeth that match the set you were born with.
When a tooth suffers damage, such as a break or loss of a filling after being filled with composite, it can be fixed by simply adding in more composite. If you recall a time when you’ve had an amalgam filling repaired, you’ll remember having to endure the removal of the entire filling before the repair could take place. With composite, this experience is a thing of the past.
Metals by nature are not confirmed to be 100% safe. Science confirms that dental patients are exposed to mercury vapors when amalgam fillings are initially fixed into cavities, and there is evidence that those with amalgam fillings are continually exposed to mercury vapors for the life of the cavity itself. As well as being questionable for patient health, this is a significant issue for dentists who must work with this neurotoxin in their environment, making resin composite an excellent choice for all.
What are the advantages of ceramic?
While ceramic comes with all the advantages of resin composite, it differs in that it is a much more expensive procedure but is worth it in the long run. When compared with resin composite, ceramic is a longer lasting material.
Because of this unique attribute, ceramic porcelain is often the favored material for large scale fillings in the back teeth, which are under a greater force than other teeth. Ceramic is the material of choice for up-to-date crown applications, as traditional metal crowns wear in an unsightly fashion, leaving the wearer hesitant to smile fully.
How is the metal removal procedure?
When it comes to fillings, if you’ve ever had an amalgam filling removed, then you will be familiar with the removal process. Your dentist will carefully and expertly remove your filling, maintaining as much of your healthy tooth structure as possible. If you’re apprehensive, local anesthetic will ensure you feel no pain during this process.
For resin composite and porcelain fillings to be securely attached to your teeth, it’s important for your entire mouth to be dry. Attaching your non-metal fillings is a breeze, leaving you looking like your teeth have never been filled at all!
Depending on the size of your amalgam fillings, your teeth color, and health, some discoloration may remain due to the nature of amalgam to discolor teeth. Talk to us about your cosmetic dentistry needs should this be a concern for you.
The removal of metal crowns will be a similar experience to the application process, but your highly skilled dentist will ensure your comfort every step of the way, making your transition to natural toned teeth painless.
Are there any drawbacks?
Composite resin is often criticized by those who say that fillings do not last as long as those done with amalgam, but this is all dependent on the training and experience of the dentist. You can trust that an experienced member of our team can create long-lasting quality fillings with composite resin.
If longevity is a worry for you, porcelain ceramic is the perfect solution for your peace of mind. When you care for your teeth and see your dentist regularly, your non-metal dentistry will see you through decades of confident, healthy smiles.