When treating a cavity, the dentist will remove the decayed portion of your tooth and fill it with another substance. This procedure is called a filling. There are multiple options for the material to be used in the filling, the most common of which are composite fillings and amalgam fillings. The dental office of Dr Albert Sandler in Metheun, MA eliminated the placement of amalgum fillings (which are over 50% mercury) from this office in 1998. Dr Sandler found he had an elevated blood mercury level from constantly using mercury in its unstable form. However, not to alarm those who already have amalgum fillings, once mercury is bound up or amalgumated with the other metals in amalgum alloy's final, set form it is safe as a dental filling. It will not "leach" mercury in the patient's mouth or bloodstream. It is an occupational hazard to those who are exposed to its unstable, plasticized form everyday.
A composite filling is also known as a tooth colored filling, since the material used in the filling can be closely matched to the color of your teeth. Composite fillings provide good durability for small to medium cavities, and the procedure typically involves removing less precious tooth structure than you would during an amalgam filling because amalgum fillings do not bond to tooth strucure, so amalgums require more tooth to be removed with retentive undercuts. Composite fillings are also superior to amalgum fillings because the composite bonds to the remaining tooth structure, providing support to the walls weakened by tooth decay and its removal. Amalgum fillings provide no support at all and typically you will see these weakened walls break off when filled with mercur/silver amalgum fillings. Composite fillings are also particularly well suited for treating front or highly visible teeth because of their natural look.
When can a composite filling be used for?
- Decayed tooth (i.e. cavity)
- Chipped or broken teeth
Decreasing the gap between teeth
Replace unsightly mercury/silver metal amalgum fillings
Replace decayed or fractured fillings
How its done
After the dentist gently and painlessly numbs the area where the filling is to be placed, he will carefully remove any decayed/diseased portions using high power magnification and dye indicators to show hidden tooth decay not nomally visible. The teeth to be restored are then micro-abraded with 50 micron grit aluminum oxide powder to super clean and surface texturize the tooth surface, tripling the bondable surface area for a stonger bond and seal. A substance, called an etchant (much like the way you would etch glass), is then applied to help microscopically open up the pores of surfaces to be bonded. Liquid bonding is then applied perfusing into these tiny pores like velcro and then cured/hardened with a high intensity light. Once this is complete, the tooth colored filling is applied in layers to slowly form the complete filling. After the composite has been hardened, the filling will be smoothened to perfectly blend with your tooth anatomy and polished to be comfortable and fit your bite.