Tooth decay can be inevitable for some us, no matter how hard we try to remember to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and visit our family dental clinic every six months. Getting a cavity can be frustrating because we may not realize what we are doing wrong or what allowed tooth decay to advance and develop into a cavity.
The location of a cavity oftentimes can be used to identify potential issues with brushing or flossing. For instance, if the cavity is on one of the back molars, it indicates these teeth are not getting brushed long enough to remove plaque or flossed correctly. Fortunately, your dentist and dental hygienist are experts at teaching us better techniques to prevent future cavities.
In order to treat a cavity, you must have your dentist remove the infection from the tooth and fill it with a filling. For years, dentists relied upon amalgam fillings as the standard filling material. However, over the past decade or so, composite fillings have been on the rise.
So which one is better? At Oasis Family Dental, we highly recommend to our patients to get composite fillings as they have many advantages over amalgam including:
- Composite fillings can be matched to the natural colour of the tooth.
- Composite fillings hide the fact you had a cavity.
- The materials used to make composite fillings last just as long as amalgam.
- People experience less problems with fillings falling out and teeth cracking, compared to amalgam, because composite fillings create a much stronger overall tooth structure.
With amalgam fillings, the materials used to make them consist of metals, and typically includes mercury. While small amounts of mercury do not pose significant health risks, it does cause discolouration to the actual tooth and sometimes, even the gum tissue. This is because the mercury “bleeds” into and stains the natural structure of the tooth.
Another drawback to using amalgam fillings is they are very sensitive to changes to temperatures and will expand and contract. For example, if you drink or eat something hot, the filling expands. Whereas if your drink or eat something cold, the filling with contract. This constant expanding and contracting will eventually cause micro-gaps around the filling.
It is through these micro-gaps the bacteria that causes tooth decay and cavities can get underneath the filling and into the tooth. Eventually, even though the tooth appears to be filled, you could end up with another cavity in the same tooth! With composite fillings, they are more resistant to changes in temperatures for a tighter and more firm fit.
Lastly, if your goals include cosmetic enhancements to beautify your smile, you will want to replace old “metal” amalgam fillings with composite ones. For more information about composite fillings, cosmetic procedures, or to schedule a general checkup, please feel free to call Oasis Family Dental at (807) 623-2662 today!