Composite and Amalgam Fillings
Mercer Island, WA
While we will always try to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems before they occur, it is not always possible. If we here at Goichi Shiotsu, DDS do diagnose you with a cavity or tooth decay, you may need restorative treatment, which typically involves a dental filling.
The most common fillings these days are fabricated using composite or silver amalgam. The type of dental filling we recommend depends on the size and location of your cavity. Larger areas of decay may also require a more extensive restoration, such as a dental crown.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
As with many other oral health problems, including gum disease, tooth decay is caused by bacteria. This bacteria is typically found in plaque, the sticky biofilm constantly forming on our teeth. It can also be found in tartar, or calcified plaque deposits, which are more difficult to remove.
The bacteria found in plaque feeds on the sugars, starches, and other simple carbohydrates we consume on a daily basis. As they feed, they produce acids that can attack the enamel and trigger a process known as demineralization. Unchecked demineralization causes dental caries, commonly referred to as tooth decay.
The more plaque and tartar buildup you have, the more likely you are to develop cavities. We brush and floss our teeth to keep plaque and tartar at bay. However, even with proper oral hygiene (and regular appointments), tooth decay can still occur.
Composite fillings are made from a putty-like substance, known as composite resin, that mimics the appearance of natural enamel. In fact, the composite we use for your filling will be color-matched to the existing shade of your tooth, allowing your restoration to seamlessly blend in with the surrounding enamel. Thanks to their superior esthetics, composite fillings are now the number one choice among patients.
Before we place your filling, we must remove any decayed tooth structure within your cavity. Once the cavity is properly prepared, we shape and mold the composite until it is flush with the rest of your tooth. After we are satisfied with the shape, Dr. Shiotsu will use an ultraviolet curing light to harden the composite and speed up the bonding process.
We may need to trim excess composite to achieve the best possible fit and cosmetics. The final step is to polish the filling until it matches the sheen of your surrounding enamel.
Amalgam fillings, commonly known as silver fillings, used to be the only choice for people with cavities. In fact, amalgam has been used in dentistry for over 150 years, meaning this restoration material is time-tested and proven effective.
Even today, we may still recommend amalgam fillings for large areas of decay in the posterior (back) teeth. These teeth have to withstand the strongest forces of your bite, which composite fillings may not be able to handle. In other words, amalgam may be the ideal solution due to their unmatched durability and longevity.
Schedule Your Appointment With Us Today!
If it has been awhile since your last checkup, or you think you may need restorative dentistry, we can help! Call (206) 232-3600 to schedule your initial appointment with us today!