Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Washington DC
Tooth Colored Fillings
When a tooth’s structure has been compromised by decay, a crack in the enamel, or a chip, a filling is required to prevent further damage. Often, these areas have gone undetected by the patient until the dentist finds them in a routine check up.
The tooth-colored mercury-free filling materials we use provide you with functional, natural-looking results.
Typically, local anesthesia is used. The decayed or damaged area of your tooth will be gently removed and replaced with filling material. Care is taken to remove as little of the tooth structure as possible while providing a good bond for the filling material. The tooth will then be polished and checked for proper occlusion (fit between the upper and lower teeth).
Minimally Invasive Dentistry
The phrase “minimally invasive dentistry” refers to new materials that enable us to minimize the amount of tooth drilled when placing a filling. These materials allow us to keep a greater percentage of healthy tooth, remove decay more quickly, match tooth color, and reduce the likelihood of tooth fracture.
Previously, we were limited to the use of silver amalgam due to the lack of conservative alternatives. It was far from an ideal option for small amounts of decay. With silver amalgam, the tooth needed to be drilled at least 1.5 mm deep and 1 mm wide to prevent fractures in the material from chewing forces, regardless of how small the decay was. As a result, many dentists would “watch” decay progress, because they couldn’t justify drilling so deeply into healthy tooth with a tiny bit of decay. Of course, over time, the decay would grow and the dentist would feel better about drilling a larger hole to fill with silver amalgam.
Fortunately, we now have much better composite restoration material. These new composites allow us to bond to the tooth and drill very minimally to remove small amounts of decay. The key is to spot the decay early, clean it completely, and bond and seal the composite restoration to the tooth. That is why many of us use magnification loupes, microscopes and other high tech instruments, such as lasers, that find decay in its early stages.
Silver amalgam has not been used in our office for many years for obvious reasons. It should be noted that there might be instances where it would work well, such as on the biting surface of a gold crown that has worn through. In most cases, however, we prefer to use composites for their benefits to the health and appearance of our patients’ teeth