Caries. Who knows what that word means?
That sounds like some rodent you could find rooting about down on Alligator Alley. Caries is the term for the most common form of the oral disease, dental caries. Still stumped? Tooth decay.
You probably know them as a different word, “cavities.” But that term doesn’t fit what’s going on. A cavity is what’s left after Dr. Brown or Dr. Vaughn removes the decayed portion of a tooth. You can’t leave that cavity open; it would be prime space for food debris and bacteria. It needs to be filled.
Hence the term “fillings.”
At Implant Dentistry of Florida, we place fillings every day after we remove decay from a tooth. In most cases, we now use composite resin, colloquially known as tooth-colored fillings.
Mercury in your mouth
Most people think the silver fillings in their molars are, well, made of silver. They’re not silver; they consist of mostly mercury. That’s is disconcerting to many people. Silver fillings are made of silver amalgam. To make them, dentists mix mercury (50% of the eventual filling) with a powder comprised of silver, copper, tin, or zinc (usually a combination of some or all of those). That sounds like a mine tailing pile in the Yukon. Scary. But the FDA has studied amalgam extensively and found it safe. Plus, the stuff has been used for fillings since the 1800s. Why? It is strong and durable.
Disadvantages of amalgam fillings
But amalgam fillings are ugly, and they have other drawbacks. The edges of the filling can wear down, become weak, or break. This creates an environment where decay can take hold again. Also, with age the mercury, silver, and other metals in amalgam fillings expand and contract. This can make the filling split, or it can even crack a tooth. Plus, they can corrode, leak, and stain your adjacent teeth and your gums.
That’s why we use mostly composite resin for our fillings now, sometimes termed inlays or onlays. Composite resin is made of a mixture of plastic and glass, and it is bonded to the tooth in layers, making these fillings structurally strong. Composite fillings pull the tooth inward just a bit, adding strength, rather than weakening the tooth as an amalgam filling does. Plus they create a tight, superior fit to the tooth. And, unlike amalgam fillings, where a part of the healthy tooth needs to be removed to make room for the filling, Resin composite fillings can be placed into teeth that have lost much of their tooth structure.
Some resins even contain fluoride to prevent future decay. How cool is that?
Having silver molars is so 1910. You’ll love our new tooth-colored composite fillings at Implant Dentistry of Florida. Is it time for your next exam and cleaning? Call us at (321) 372-7700 to make your appointment.