While no one wants to get fillings when they visit the dentist’s office sometimes they are necessary to preserve the health of your teeth and to keep small problems from becoming larger ones. There continues to be controversy surrounding the use of dental amalgam containing mercury as a filling material. At vanHofwegen Dental we offer mercury-free fillings, which we feel have many benefits over amalgam for the patient.
Dentists have been using dental amalgam for about 150 years. Mercury is combined with other metals like silver, tin and copper to give it the necessary properties to function in teeth. However, over the years there have been questions as to its safety. Scientists continue to sort out the conflicting data on the safety of dental amalgam containing mercury. At vanHofwegen Dental, we have felt for some 20 years that if there were dental materials that work as well or better than those containing mercury, then those would be the ones we would use.
Mercury-free fillings (often called composites) cause less sensitivity to cold temperatures in foods and drinks. Composite fillings have a similar flexibility to tooth structure whereas amalgam is more rigid than tooth structure because it is a metal. This property of amalgam makes the tooth more vulnerable to breaking. Composite fillings, on the other hand, help to restore the tooth’s natural strength because the filling material bonds to the tooth. Instead of weakening the tooth, the filling gives it more strength. This can help prevent breaks or chips in your teeth.
Perhaps the biggest reason that people prefer composite restorations is that they help keep our smile looking natural. Amalgam fillings are very distinctive as they have a silver or black color. They can be very noticeable when smiling, laughing or talking. When composite fillings are properly done, they strengthen the tooth, and help you achieve a natural look so no one knows you ever had a cavity. When placed with the proper technique we have found composite restorations to be functional, comfortable and much more natural in appearance.