Are you tired of opening your mouth and seeing black teeth? Do you wonder if there might not be a better way to restore your teeth? Well, white fillings are your answer. Modern white fillings are durable, esthetic, and mercury free. There are three kinds of white fillings: direct and indirect composite resin, and indirect porcelain.
CEREC – Milled Porcelain Fillings
The CEREC Procedure
Let’s face it- very few of us have perfect teeth, free of decay and fillings. You can probably see a filling or two in your own mouth, which do just that — “fill” a cavity, or hole, in your tooth left from the excavation of decayed tooth structure. In many cases, those old fillings will eventually lose their seal and go bad, weakening the tooth, allowing additional decay to form under or around it. In fact, 1.2 billion of these old restorations will need to be replaced in the next 10 years. CEREC is a method used by thousands of dentists worldwide since 1987 not only to replace these fillings, but also to restore any tooth that is decayed, weakened, broken, etc. to its natural strength and beauty. Better yet, it’s done with all-ceramic materials that are tooth colored in a single appointment!
Exam and Preparation
First, we examine the tooth and determine the appropriate treatment. It could be a simple filling, or a full crown, depending on how much healthy tooth structure is remaining. Next, we administer an anesthetic and prepare your tooth for the restoration, removing decayed and weakened tooth tissue.
Then, we take an Optical Impression of the prepared tooth. Instead of filling a tray with impression “goop” that you must bite into and hold in your mouth until it hardens, we coat the tooth with a non-toxic, tasteless powder. A laser camera is then used to take a digital picture of your tooth. This whole Optical Impression process only takes a minute or two.
Next, the CEREC machine helps us create the restoration for your tooth. The CEREC 3D software takes the digital picture and converts it into a 3-dimensional virtual model on the computer screen. We then use our dental expertise to design the restoration using the CEREC 3D computer program. The restoration design data is then sent to a separate milling machine in the office. A ceramic block that matches your tooth shade is placed in the milling machine. About 10 – 20 minutes later, your all-ceramic, tooth-colored restoration is finished and ready to bond in place. Finally, we try the restoration in your mouth to ensure proper fit and bite. The restoration is then polished and bonded to the prepared tooth. Your tooth is restored with no “temporary” or return trip necessary. All of this is done in a single appointment! Ask us about CEREC today
CEREC® is a registered trademark of Sirona Dental Systems
Direct Composite Resin
A composite resin is tooth-colored plastic resin filled with glass (silicon dioxide). Introduced in the 1960s, the original dental composites were limited in use to filling enamel defects in the front teeth. Two main problems stopped composites from becoming a universal filling material. The biggest problem was that we could not bond to the inside components of the tooth (dentin). This problem was overcome in the 1990’s with the advent of dentin bonding. This ability to bond to dentin has revolutionized modern dentistry allowing us to bond composite resin fillings to any part of the tooth. The other problem was that composites were originally not strong enough to withstand the pressure and wear generated by the back teeth. Since then, composites have been significantly improved and can be successfully placed in the back teeth as well. Today composites are not only used for restoring decay, but also for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.
How Long Does It Take To Place A Composite Resin?
It takes us about 10-20 minutes longer to place a composite than a silver filling. Placement time depends on the size and location of the cavity. The larger the size, the longer it will take.
What are the advantages of composites over mercury silver amalgam?
- The biggest advantage is that a composite filling is bonded to the tooth. Thus a composite filled tooth has strength almost equal to an unfilled tooth. An amalgam just sits there filling the space providing no structural strength whatsoever. As a result amalgam weakens the tooth leaving it more prone to fracture.
- Another advantage is that mercury silver amalgam requires the removal of much more tooth structure when it is first being placed. Amalgam requires a certain bulk or else it cracks. Also since amalgam is not bonded the initial preparation always involves extending the tooth removal beyond the actual cavity and into every pit and groove on the tooth. Composite resin can be placed in very small cavities allowing dentists to confine tooth removal only to the actual cavity, resulting in very tooth conserving preparations. Remaining grooves and pits are then bonded and sealed with resin.
- Esthetics is another advantage, since we can blend shades to create a color nearly identical to that of the actual tooth.
How long will composites last?
Studies have shown that composites last 7-10 years, which is comparable to silver fillings except in large fillings, where only porcelain should be placed (see porcelain fillings).