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A side by side comparison of composite, amalgam, and gold fillings Daily brushing and flossing, in conjunction with twice-yearly dental cleanings and exams, are crucial components for preventing oral health issues, including cavities. Skipping steps in your oral care routine, or neglecting any component completely, can significantly increase your risk of developing cavities in your teeth. If cavities occur, they need to be treated promptly to avoid further decay and damage to the tooth. Eugene Dental Group offers composite, or tooth-colored, fillings to restore the health of your smile.

What are Cavities?

Cavities are small pits that form on the surfaces of your teeth. They are the result of tooth decay, which is caused by erosion from the acids produced by plaque and oral bacteria. If the teeth are not properly cleaned, the acids are not removed and begin to wear away at the enamel, forming weak spots. Eventually, the acids cause pits to form. When decay and cavities are not treated, the cavities only continue to grow larger. They compromise the strength of the teeth as well as their health. If cavities grow in the inner layers of the teeth, they provide a direct route for bacteria to enter. The bacteria can then irritate the pulp of the affected tooth, leading to an infection. Cavities are often found during your dental exam while Dr. Vivona or are reviewing your dental x-rays. For large areas of decay caused by cavities, we may need to restore the tooth with a dental crown, but for smaller areas, a filling is the best treatment to retain as much natural tooth structure as possible.

Traditional Amalgam Fillings

The traditional treatment for cavities is an amalgam filling. This type of filling has been in use for over 150 years. It is made up of a mixture of metals that are suspended in mercury, which aids in providing the filling with its exceptional strength. Amalgam fillings can stand up to the strongest bite forces, making them ideal for cavities in teeth toward the back of the mouth. While strong, amalgam fillings do have a few major disadvantages. First, they are silver in color, which makes them stand out against the natural tooth structure. Additionally, the metal and the mercury content both raise some concerns for many patients.

The procedure for amalgam fillings is fairly straightforward. First, a local anesthetic is used to numb the area around the affected tooth. Next, the tooth is cleaned. A drill is used to remove the decay inside of the cavity and shape it so that the filling will fit properly inside. The amalgam material is placed inside the cavity and smoothed before being cured, or hardened, providing you with immediate protection.

Composite Fillings

Composite fillings are an alternative to amalgam fillings. These fillings use a composite resin material, which is made up of fine glass, plastic, and other materials. While not as strong as amalgam, composite fillings have a few major advantages. They are tooth-colored, which means that they will blend in with the rest of your natural tooth. This makes them ideal for cavities toward the front of the mouth. Composite resin also bonds to the tooth, so less of the tooth structure needs to be removed.
Composite resin fillings are placed similarly to amalgam fillings. Depending on the size and the location of the cavity, you may or may not need a local anesthetic. The decay is removed and the tooth cleaning. Acid etch applied to the interior of the cavity, which creates a rough texture for the material to better adhere to. The acid is washed away and the tooth dried. Next, the material is placed into the cavity, and it is cured with a UV light. Finally, it is polished in order to be smooth and ensure your bite is accurate.

Fillings restore the health of a tooth affected by a cavity and help to protect the health of your whole mouth. If you suspect that you have a cavity, call Eugene Dental Group today to schedule your consultation at (541) 683-8646.
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