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Elite Smiles

White dental fillings are an alternative to black, mercury fillings.

New Age, Alternative Filling Materials

An alternative filling material should look to accomplish three goals.  The first is it should use a material that is non-toxic.  There is debate about the amount of mercury a person is exposed to with amalgam fillings, but there is no debate the primary ingredient is mercury.  The second goal it should meet is, it should look like a tooth.  And third, it should last.  Most are probably aware that there are alternative dental filling materials, but the two most common are tooth colored fillings, composite, and ceramics.  We'll look at these two separately.  Today we will focus on dental composite fillings.

So how does dental composite fit these 3 goals? Composite is a plastic.  After the tooth has been prepared for a filling, the material is placed.  Composite goes in at a consistency almost like putty and is packed into place.  At the time of placement a blue light, or dental curing light, is used to harden the material so it appears like any other plastic.  As it cures, it shrinks slightly.  And here in lies one of two concerns for composite.  When it shrinks, it can cause what is called micro leakage.  The newer composites are shrinking less and less, but they all do shrink to a degree.  So typically it is advisable for smaller fillings.  The other concern is, is the plastic toxic?

Many of you have heard the term BPA.  Basically it is a [potentially toxic plastic that has been banned in many countries, such as Canada, but is still used here in the USA.  Some composites do have BPA.  So how do you know if your dentist is using a BPA free composite? Be sure to ask them.  When the dental composite is hardened, it appears tooth colored.  There are different shades of dental composite, so the dentist can match your tooth as closely as possible.  An exact match is not always possible, but it is whole lot closer than black!

Dental composite obtains these goals as long as it is placed as a small filling, which only a dentist can determine how small, small is.  The more dental filling material placed into a tooth, the weaker the tooth becomes and deficiencies of the material, like microleackage, become exacerbated.  So a small tooth colored filling can easily be placed, that, when BPA free like all materials at your St Augustine dentist in World Golf Village, Elite Smiles, are, you can be sure you are receiving a healthy, natural looking dental filling that will last for years.

For larger fillings, ceramic would be a better choice, we will discuss why in another blog.  And you can click here to learn  more about your options from you World Golf Village dentist here.

Steven Freeman
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Dr. Steven Freeman Focuses on Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry at Elite Smiles-St. Augustine