What Are White Fillings?
White fillings are used to repair cracked/decayed teeth and to create a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. Primarily, white fillings serve a cosmetic desire for teeth to look natural. Unlike the common silver amalgam fillings, white fillings are made from powdered glass, quartz, silica or other ceramic particles added to a resin base (plastic) that is customized to exactly match the shade of your teeth, therefore making them invisible to the casual observer. They provide an alternative to the more common silver amalgam fillings which contain a large percentage of mercury. Dental amalgams have first been used in China, in the 7th century. Nowadays, scientific progress has resulted in the invention of newer, safer materials with better properties. Mercury is a poisonous substance and, even though it is generally thought safe to use in dental procedures, its usage has become very controversial. Amalgam fillings have even been banned in some Scandinavian countries. Mercury can also leach in the environment during the process of drilling and preparation, which makes it not only an immediate health concern, but also a long-term environmental one. Combined with all the other disadvantages regular amalgams have, it is clear why we prefer fillings without toxic components and possible risks to your health.
Advantages of White Fillings
- White fillings are completely mercury – free. Mercury is a toxic element and people are suggested to avoid exposure to mercury, be it from food or environmental sources.
- They are prepared with a tooth colored material composed of glass particles suspended in a resin matrix
- These fillings are available in several shades to perfectly match the natural shade of your tooth/teeth. They are nearly indistinguishable from a normal tooth. When you laugh and smile, there will be no unsightly gray spots from amalgams.
- White fillings are bonded directly to your tooth, which can restore your tooth’s natural strength. They integrate with your tooth. The structure of your teeth is strengthened and the restoration will rarely fail. On the other hand, amalgam fillings can damage and weaken your tooth and eventually cause it to break.
- They cause less tooth sensitivity than amalgam fillings
- They also require less tooth preparation, meaning less removal of your own tooth structure
- White fillings are easier to repair than amalgams. In most cases, just an additional application of resin is required. With amalgams, most often the whole filling must be replaced.
- They can be fitted into very small holes, so less drilling is needed in preparation for the fillings. Whereas amalgams rely on gravity to settle (which is why drilling is necessary for amalgam fillings), white filling resins bond to the surface of your tooth. This results in much less drilling than with regular amalgam fillings.
- They look more attractive and aesthetic than amalgam fillings, as their color matches that of the surrounding teeth or roots.
- They can save your tooth: Instead of removing your tooth, your dental provider may try using white fillings, as these will bond to your tooth and therefore preserve it.
- An alternative to dental crowns. Sometimes, white fillings can serve as a conservative treatment option for some cases that would normally require the fitting of a dental crown. This is also a much cheaper and faster procedure.
- Instances of secondary tooth decay are a lot easier to spot under a white filling than a regular amalgam one.
White Fillings can be used for a variety of cosmetic dental procedures:
- Repairing chipped or broken teeth
- Closing gaps between your teeth (diastemas)
- Reshaping your teeth
When and Why Do I Need White Fillings?
Many people are dissatisfied with grey amalgam fillings because they are very visible and unattractive. Fillings do not just have to be functional, they can also be aesthetically pleasing and thus many cosmetic dentistry patients demand white fillings that will look natural and in perfect harmony with their surrounding teeth, inconspicuous to other people. Amalgams are also less versatile and require more tooth to be removed in order to be placed. They also weaken the tooth they are applied to.
How Are White Fillings Installed?
White fillings are installed in the same way as the amalgam fillings. Firstly, the cavity is cleaned and the tooth is prepared for a filling. However, with white fillings, less tooth structure has to be removed, which also implies less drilling. In most cases, these fillings are direct fillings, which means they can be done in a single appointment with your dentist. Generally, the installation of white fillings takes a bit more time than with regular amalgams, as the resin needs to be properly set and dried. The tooth must be dry for the procedure, as the presence of saliva can disturb the bonding process. The composite resin is placed in the tooth, and then a special laser light is used to harden and dry the resin. This is done in layers. Then the dentist will shape the resin to match the natural contours of your tooth. Instead of using amalgam, Dr. Harouni will fill the cavity with a material shaded to the color of your natural tooth enamel.
Are White Fillings an Optimal Solution for Me?
White fillings are an optimal solution for any patient who needs to have their cavities cleaned and filled or if you would like to replace your larger amalgam fillings. Should you want to give your teeth a “face lift” by removing your unsightly, old amalgam fillings and replacing them with “invisible” ones, white fillings are the perfect option for you.
White Fillings and Teeth Whitening
If you consider having your teeth professionally whitened, it is a good idea to do it before we put the white fillings and match the color of the filling. By doing so, you both have fresh, whitened teeth and new, invisible fillings that exactly match your newly brightened teeth.
White fillings are becoming the standard for filling cavities, offering greater aesthetic benefits and reducing the risks associated with the amalgam mercury fillings of the past. They are not only of great advantage for your dental health by treating cavities, they also look completely natural, making you feel more confident and carefree.
In the photos below, the posterior teeth were filled with silver fillings and were replaced with these beautiful bonded restorations. The application of white fillings requires extensive skills and experience, which directly affects the success of your treatment. Dr. George Harouni ensures this procedure is always done as safely as possible to avoid the spreading of mercury vapors associated with the removal of existing silver fillings.
Want to know more? Your smile and your health are worth finding out! Call our Las Vegas, NV (Henderson, NV) dental office today at 702-434-9464 for more information or to schedule an appointment with our renowned cosmetic dentist, Dr. George Harouni.