If you’ve had at least one cavity, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, you’re in the vast majority of other residents of Coachella Valley. For much of history, fillings weren’t very attractive. Luckily, dental technology and procedures have advanced and fillings no longer affect the appearance of your smile. Rancho Mirage dentist Dr. Rod Strober offers advanced, healthy, and attractive filling options.

Handsome man smiling

What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is basically a hole or open space of any kind. When your Rancho Mirage dentist talks about cavities, they’re talking about holes in your teeth caused by tooth decay. However, a dentist is more likely to call cavities dental caries. Caries is a Latin word that means “rottenness.” So, while “cavity” refers to a hole in your tooth, caries refers more generally to the whole process of tooth decay.

Tooth decay occurs because of oral bacteria. These bacteria eat sugar and carbohydrates in your food. They then excrete acid. While your teeth are the hardest tissues in your body, they are vulnerable to acid, and the acid attacks your teeth. First, the acid removes minerals from the tooth, which can cause it to discolor and weaken. Then the acid will create holes in your teeth.

If a hole in your tooth isn’t filled, food gets trapped in it and bacteria shelter there. This speeds the process of decay, and the hole will grow until it ultimately causes the tooth to break and/or reaches the living part of the tooth. Bacteria then infect the interior of the tooth, which can cause tremendous pain and may even be deadly in some cases.

Your Rancho Mirage dentist will help you prevent, detect, and treat tooth decay to keep you and your teeth safe.

A History of Metal Fillings

Amalgam fillings have been commonly used in dentistry for around 150 years. Although they’re often called “silver fillings,” they are actually made up of a combination of metals including silver, mercury, tin, and copper, as well as zinc, indium, or palladium in some cases. Initially introduced as a more affordable alternative to gold fillings, they met stiff resistance at first. Many were concerned about potential health complications. Some early cases of mercury poisoning highlighted the need for proper techniques for healthy use, but once standard formulae were adopted, dentists saw metal fillings as a good alternative to gold.

Even though metal amalgam fillings became popular for pragmatic reasons, they are not cosmetic. Not only do these kinds of fillings appear in stark contrast against white teeth, but they grow darker over time as they rust, turning black.

And the issues go beyond aesthetics for some people: There have been concerns raised about the levels of mercury included in these types of fillings. Mercury is used in amalgam fillings to help make the mixture pliable for ease of application. However, mercury exposure can be dangerous in high enough quantities. The FDA’s current position is that the mercury levels in amalgam fillings may be harmful to certain groups that are more susceptible to injury, including:

  • Children, especially those under age 6
  • Women who are pregnant or are considering getting pregnant
  • Nursing mothers and their infants
  • People with pre-existing neurological conditions
  • People with impaired kidney function
  • People who are sensitive to mercury or other metals in the fillings

Rancho Mirage dentist Dr. Rod Strober does not place mercury fillings.

Tooth-Colored Fillings in Rancho Mirage

Luckily, metal fillings aren’t the only option anymore. These days, white fillings, also called tooth-colored fillings, are available to fit right into the aesthetic of your smile.

White fillings are created from a custom shaded composite resin, so your Rancho Mirage dentist can match the color precisely to the rest of your teeth for a natural look. This resin is malleable so that your dentist can shape it precisely to make your teeth complete again. Once the filling is in place, we will cure it with a special UV light to harden it and make it durable. Finally, Dr. Strober will check to make sure the filling doesn’t impact your bite. It’s that easy — you’ll be in and out with your new filling in just one short appointment.

We also offer a more cosmetic and more durable filling option. With our CEREC system, we can craft a fully ceramic filling for your teeth in just one visit. These fillings look just like your natural tooth material–they even have the luster of natural tooth enamel–and they are the longest-lasting fillings available.

Unfortunately, no filling lasts forever. If your amalgam fillings need to be replaced, don’t go back to metal in your mouth — try a white filling to see how the difference in appearance can transform the look of your smile. Not sure if your fillings need to be replaced yet? That’s not a problem — Rancho Mirage dentist Dr. Strober can replace a filling any time, even if it’s just for cosmetic reasons.

If you need an experienced cosmetic dentist in Rancho Mirage, call (760) 832-7915 or contact us online to make an appointment at our office near the Rancho Mirage Country Club.