Despite our best efforts, cavities do sometimes happen. If they do, we believe that you should have options available that repair the cavity without leaving permanent marks.
For decades, amalgam (also known as metal or silver) fillings were used to fill cavities. While this product is effective, it’s also easily visible whenever you smile. If your cavity was large and required extensive filling, there was a chance that your tooth would become permanently discolored.
Amalgam Fillings and Mercury
We get a lot of questions about the safety of amalgam, or silver, fillings. Patients are concerned about the fact that these fillings contain mercury and wonder whether the mercury in dental fillings leads to health problems.
Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Public Health have conducted studies to determine whether mercury is safe for use in dental fillings. If you already have amalgam fillings, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Each study has found that the mercury in amalgam fillings is not chemically active, and no adverse health conditions have ever been linked to the mercury in amalgam fillings.
The Advantages of Tooth-Colored Fillings
Despite these findings, many of our patients still prefer to have their cavities filled with tooth-colored fillings, and we recommend them as well, for a number of reasons:
- Composite resin fillings require less tooth prep prior to filling, which means you experience less drilling and we can preserve more healthy tooth structure.
- Patients with tooth-colored fillings experience less sensitivity following the filling procedure.
- Composite resin fillings don’t expand and contract with changes in temperature like metal fillings do. Over time, these small movements can cause amalgam fillings to become loose and even fall out.
- Composite resin fillings bond to your tooth from the inside and can actually strengthen your tooth. This is especially important if your tooth requires a lot of filling, which is usually the case in root canals.
Do You Have a Cavity?
Most of the time, cavities exist without symptoms. We catch most cavities during a visual or an x-ray examination (another reason why it’s important to have regular examinations every six months!).
If it’s been a while since your last examination and cleaning, it’s possible that cavities could have developed. Some of the symptoms that may indicate that a cavity has formed include:
- Pain in the tooth or gum
- Visible pitting or a dark mark on the surface of the tooth
- Swelling in the gum around the tooth
- Sensitivity to heat, cold, and sweets
- Pain and tenderness when you bite down or chew
By the time you feel these symptoms, tooth decay may have set in, and it’s crucial that you are treated promptly to prevent further damage or a lost tooth.
At our Sugar Land dental office, we prefer to use conservative treatment measures whenever possible. Seeing us earlier rather than later will allow us to care for your cavity when it’s very small. Call us today to schedule your preventive examination.