First what is a filling? A filling is a material placed in teeth that help stop the process of decay and/or repair and replace fractured tooth structure.
There are two types of filling materials. One type is silver in color “amalgam” Which has been used for over 100 years and is a combination of different metals, including copper, silver, and mercury. The other type is a tooth colored (composite) resin which is bonded to the tooth and is made up of acrylic plastics, quartz fillers, and colorants.
The advantages to composite fillings are first and foremost they are more esthetically pleasing in appearance and second they are less sensitive to hot and cold.
The advantage to an amalgam filling is that they are more economical and they last a bit longer over time.
Both amalgam and composite restorations break down over time. Amalgam corrodes, expands and contracts to the point of break down around the margins and leakage occurs.
And sometimes the tooth structure fractures. Composites actually dissolve over time, they tend to discolor, and get tiny pits in them. Composites also expand and contract when heated by hot coffees, teas, and soups or cooled with foods such as ice cream. The break down also mostly occurs around the margins where the bonding is compromised and leakage occurs.
Amalgam is still up for debate on its toxicity. But studies have shown that normal grinding and chewing show that 5-6 fillings release about the same amount of mercury as a tuna fish sandwich.
Oral Health and your overall health. While most of us do not like going to the doctor let alone the dentist it is very important to see your dentist at least 2 times a year for regular check-ups and a preventive cleaning. Unfortunately we’re more likely to blow off that much needed exam and cleaning more so than any other health related appointment. To most we treat this visit as more of an “option” than a necessity. There are a lot of undiagnosed non-tooth related conditions that may be spotted by a dentist. Listed are 3 main reasons to see your dentist regularly: 1) Heart Disease – researchers found that people with chronic infection in the oral cavity are at a higher risk for heart attacks, strokes, coronary artery disease. 2) Oral Cancer – Every time you have your teeth cleaned they are doing a visual screening looking for swollen, red areas, ulcerated areas and anything that looks out of the ordinary. Oral cancers are asymptomatic and usually go undetected unless someone is looking specifically for the signs. High risk patients are Smokers, tobacco, dip and snuff users, or anyone who consumes more than one alcoholic beverage on a daily basis. 3)Diabetes – The condition of your gums and teeth may point to diabetes. For one diabetes reduces your body’s ability to fight infection causing gum and teeth issues, and gum disease makes it hard to control your diabetes. If you are a diabetic or if diabetes runs in your family it is important to talk to your dentist on recommendations as to the frequency of your cleanings per year. Bottom line remember cleanings and check-ups a far more less expensive that a crown or root canal.