If you’ve had at least one filling in your life, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, you’re in the vast majority — a whopping 96% of Americans have had dental decay by the time they reach age 65. When your dentist treats a cavity, they remove the decayed portion of the tooth and fill in the gap with a filling. Unfortunately, for much of history, fillings weren’t a very attractive look. Luckily, technology has advanced and fillings no longer have to mar the appearance of your smile.
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. Not only do these kinds of fillings appear in stark contrast against white teeth, but they even 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 are harmless in adults and children over the age of 6, but many people remain worried about having mercury in their mouths.
Tooth-Colored Fillings Blend Right In
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 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, it will be cured with a special UV light to harden it and make it durable. Finally, your dentist 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. Each case is different, but most fillings will need to be replaced within five to ten years of being placed. 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 — we can replace a filling any time, even if it’s just for cosmetic reasons.