Cavity Fillings

Silver-mercury fillings used to be the norm for filling cavities and have been around since the Civil War. To hold the fillings in place, the tooth was prepared by making a hole, which was larger at the base of the tooth than at the top. The problem with this is that excess tooth structure needs to be removed in order to save the tooth.

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Dr. Kremer practices Tooth-Conserving Dentistry. Since tooth structure, unlike most tissues in the human body, does not regenerate, Dr. Kremer knows the importance of conservation. It is very important to remove as little tooth structure as possible when restoring a tooth to a more healthy status. The options in tooth colored restorations range from bonded composite resins for smaller cavities to bonded porcelain onlays for larger restorations. An onlay is like a more conservative version of a crown where only the unhealthy tooth structure is removed, and the healthy structure is left untouched and intact. The benefit to any of these is that they protect the fragile tooth structure and are bonded directly to your tooth for great strength.

Materials and technology have continued to improve and now a tooth-colored composite is the new standard of care in the dental field. The tooth-colored material is bonded to the tooth itself, making the tooth stronger and helping to prevent the tooth from fracturing. It holds the tooth together better than silver-mercury fillings. By using this new material and technique, the tooth structure is preserved because the procedure requires far less tooth structure removal to achieve superior retention. It is the most conservative way to restore a tooth. In addition, some studies even conclude that a composite-filled tooth is about as strong as a healthy tooth with no filling.

Silver-mercury fillings expand and contract with temperature changes. This movement weakens and even causes the tooth to crack. It also creates a space between the tooth wall and the filling, allowing bacteria to enter, causing decay that not even an x-ray can detect until it gets bigger. There is also much controversy in the field of dentistry about mercury toxins leaking from these amalgam fillings for up to 20 years after they have been inserted in the tooth. Several European countries have actually banned the use of silver-mercury fillings because of the health risks. It is thought that the mercury can leak into your bloodstream and is a risk to your health.

The process of replacing your old silver amalgams for tooth-colored ones is simple and can usually be performed in one appointment.