Modern amalgam fillings were first introduced to the Western world in the early 1800s. Today, they are comprised of a mixture of metals, including liquid mercury and a powdered alloy consisting of tin, silver, and copper. Dental amalgam is also known as “silver fillings” due to its silver-like appearance.
Silver fillings have long been used to repair cavities in the teeth caused by decay. They are favored for their long lifespan and inexpensive cost. They are also highly resistant to damage from chewing or grinding. However, they can also be problematic. Silver fillings require a larger filling size, have an unsightly metallic look, and have possible health hazards.
Replacing Old Silver Fillings with Composite
Silver fillings are replaced for a wide range of reasons. Old silver fillings can deteriorate over time, leaving the teeth vulnerable to cracks or decay. In some cases, a new cavity will form underneath the edge of an existing filling, requiring the old filling to be removed and replaced. Many patients also opt to have their silver fillings replaced for cosmetic reasons. Composite is often a go-to material due to its natural look and effectiveness.
Composite resin fillings are the most popular type of dental filling used in modern dental practices. These tooth-colored fillings replicate the natural appearance of healthy tooth enamel and form with the tooth via a chemical bond for a reliable fit. Composite fillings also do not carry the same potential health risks as silver amalgam fillings. They are highly versatile and suitable for most types of cavities, including decay in the front of the mouth.
Process of Replacing an Old Silver Tooth Filling
Replacing a silver tooth filling with a composite filling is slightly more complicated than starting with a tooth without an existing filling. The procedure begins by numbing the tooth and surrounding gum tissue using a local anesthetic. The anesthetic helps to temporarily stop communication between the tooth and brain to prevent pain signals from getting through.
Next, a high-speed handpiece is used to remove the old silver filling. If there is a cavity under the existing filling, the decayed portion of the tooth will also need to be removed. The resulting space is then cleaned and filled with a composite material that closely matches the color of your other teeth. An acidic, blue gel helps the composite resin strongly adhere to the tooth. Your Melbourne, FL dentist will also use a small amount of priming and bonding agent to kill bacteria and ensure a good bond.
Once the composite is smoothed, any remaining bubbles are removed using the high-speed handpiece. Next, a blue light helps cure and harden the filling. This light may be used more than once depending on the location and size of the filling. Your dentist will then shape the filling so it is flush with the rest of the tooth. The patient will then undergo a ‘bite test’ on carbon paper to see if the teeth fit together comfortably. Once hardened, the filling can be further filed down and smoothed.
Caring for a Composite Dental Filling
No filling will last forever; however, composite fillings can last up to 15 years with proper care. To keep your composite fillings healthy and strong, follow these simple tips:
- Brush at least twice a day and floss daily
- Avoid eating hard foods
- Avoid very hot or very cold foods or beverages
- Use caution when brushing to avoid dislodging the filling
- Consider a mouth guard if you grind your teeth at night
- Visit your dentist regularly for checkups
Schedule an Appointment With Your Melbourne, Florida Dentist Regarding Your Fillings
In decades past, if you had a cavity, your dentist would place a silver filling. However, today there are safer and more aesthetically-pleasing options. Composite dental fillings contain resin that is custom-blended to match your teeth for a more natural look. If you’re looking to improve your smile, the friendly team of dental professionals at Artistic Touch Dentistry can help. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with your Melbourne, FL dentist.