Aesthetic Dentistry: Tooth Colored Fillings

Aesthetic Dentistry High tech advances are not exclusive to the space program. Major scientific developments intended to make life easier, simpler and generally better have been turning up in areas you might least expect them.

Bonding "Bonding has revolutionized cosmetic dentistry. With this technique we can cover stains, close gaps, reshape teeth, and repair chips. Through the bonding process, Tooth-colored plastic materials called composite resins or porcelain veneers are bonded over problem teeth that have been lightly swabbed with a mild acid solution that makes them more porous and better able to accept the bond. The restructured tooth is then contoured and polished, and the patient is left with an eye-pleasing smile, improvement that usually is accomplished without anesthetics or drilling." It's not quite as good as this quote from Miracles in Modern Dentistry would lead you to believe but it is close. It does not last as well as a porcelain crown but you can save two thirds of the cost and it usually can be done in one appointment. The repair in some mouths will pick up stain and because it is plastic, will wear and may break because it is not as strong as tooth.

Sealants When back teeth are developing in children, depressions and grooves form in the chewing surfaces of the enamel. These are virtually impossible to reach with a toothbrush, so they tend to become breeding grounds for decay. We have had for some years, a plastic material we could seal these with, however, it did not last for more than 1-2 years. It was hard to justify the cost of this if it did not last. We now have new plastics that should last 5 years or more. It is now less costly to do sealants than to take a chance on decay with the exception that some insurance companies will not pay for the sealants.

White fillings for back teeth For years we have used tooth colored materials in the front of the mouth. These worked well where there was enough tooth left to protect them from the forces of chewing. They were not strong enough to use on the grinding surfaces of back teeth. For the past few years dental supply companies have been trying to develop a replacement for silver in the back teeth. We are part of a research study of a new generation of these materials. We have done over 100 in the last year. Less than 2% have had to be replaced. They look good, they are nearly as hard as silver, wear like silver, actually bond to tooth (something that silver does not), has no mercury (silver fillings use mercury), and is the same color as tooth. It is very difficult to tell that you have a filling in a tooth when they are finished. It's nice for us to finish a mouth and have it look more natural than it did before we started, with no metal shining back at us. One lecturer we heard suggested that within 5 years we will no longer use any silver alloy fillings. If you have any questions about these materials be sure to ask. If you have teeth or fillings that you feel do not look as nice as they could, be sure to ask about these alternatives. Back to newsletter index