This is generally known as the ‘silver filling’. The amalgam fillings have served the ‘baby boomers’ well in the past sixty or so years. Many countries overseas are using amalgam as a regular restoration material, and it is still used by some of the Australian dentists today. It was universally used to restore decayed teeth because it was regarded as the best material at that time which has helped millions of patients to maintain their teeth for many years.
The real problem with amalgam is its movement within the tooth. It expands and contracts in response to the temperature of the food and drinks we take, at a different rate as the tooth structure that it is placed it. If any cavity which is not perfectly ‘stress’ protected, hair line crack will develop in the tooth. This crack will propagate with further chewing load and temperature change, and without one noticing, this continues to happen until suddenly one finds ‘I only bite on a piece of toast, and the tooth fractured off’.
Millions of amalgam fillings have cracks in them to a various extent, and it is only time that will extend far enough to cause a major fracture in the tooth. The other concern to a lot of patients is that amalgam fillings do not have the ‘natural’ look.
Composite Restorations (Tooth coloured fillings)
Tooth coloured filling materials, called composite, are used to return the function of a tooth after decay. They are personally selected to match the existing colour, or to give a brighter colour to your teeth. They can also be used to disguise blemishes, replace naturally worn areas or reshape the alignment of a tooth.
Composite is available in different colour, shade, tint, tone and chroma, and dentists use it not just for tooth fillings, but for cosmetic purposes such as tooth contouring, dental veneers and build-ups. Composite is the preferred material for cavity fillings because:
- It is more flexible and versatile
- It can be easily repaired and restored
- It looks more natural and pleasing
- It is strong and durable
- It is bonded to the tooth and can prevent breakage
However, they are more technique sensitive. In other words, greater skill is required by the dentist to ensure the restorations are up to standards to achieve the desired results mentioned above.
My tooth coloured fillings came off, why?
It is to be noted that because composite is bonded to the tooth surface, extreme care must be taken by the dentist to separate or isolate this specific area of restoration to prevent contamination from bacteria in the oral cavity. Moisture from saliva will affect the bonding and durability of the filling, as a result the filling may come off.
If the filling has ‘leaked’ and decay occurs under the filling, this will undermine the restoration and fail.
If the ‘bite’ is not correctly balanced, the biting force will eventually cause fracture of either the filling or the tooth.
Another important point to mention is that the dentist must make sure that all decays in the tooth be thoroughly cleaned before applying any restorative material, otherwise the tooth will continue to decay under the filling and eventually the patient may have to have root canal therapy or a dental crown.
Professional Tooth Fillings by Dr. Andrew Sih
At Bondi Dental, for all tooth fillings, our cosmetic dentist, Dr. Andrew Sih uses a rubber dam to isolate the tooth and ensure that the area is sterile. The rubber dam is a piece of latex held by clamps along the edge of the gum. This procedure provides a clean and dry operative area for treatment without contamination from blood or saliva. Rubber dam also serves the purpose of preventing any materials falling into the patient’s mouth during treatment.
Dr. Andrew Sih offers high quality restorative dentistry to his patients. He is very meticulous with every step of the treatment to ensure that the fillings are of the highest standards which will look good, feel good, functional and durable.
Dr. Andrew Sih will ensure that his dental fillings will meet with the following standards:
- Decay free and biologically sealed
- Occlusally balanced
- No food trap and easy to floss
- Smooth margin – for healthy gum and easy cleaning
- Use of tooth coloured matching materials
If you have a broken filling or would like to replace your amalgam fillings, contact Bondi Dental now at (02) 9365 3988