What Materials Do/Can We Use?
Dentistry is in a period of renaissance and we believe our patients should be well informed about the various materials that are available for restoration: gold, composite, and amalgam. Each material has positive and negative attributes, and we want our patients to be familiar with what they are. We have current articles available at our office if you would like further information.
The gold restorative material is a high noble alloy composed of gold, palladium, and platinum. It is a long lasting inert metal which is a preferable restorative material for those with chemical sensitivities. The process of completing a gold restoration consists of two office appointments. The first appointment prepares the tooth and places the temporary filling while the second appointment permanently places the laboratory-made gold restoration. Gold is known to be the best restorative material since it is durable but causes very little wear to opposing teeth.
The composite restorative material is composed of glass beads and acrylic bonded to the tooth with a resin. This material is mainly used for decay near the gum line and on anterior teeth. It is advantageous because it can be matched exactly to the shade of the tooth. On the other hand, sensitivity can be expected for several days because of the acid etchant that is used to prepare the tooth for bonding. Also, the life expectancy of a composite filling ranges from 7-10 years because of wear. This material is less expensive than gold but slightly more expensive than amalgam. For further information on the bodily effects of dental bonding/sealants, an article entitled, “Estrogenic Agents Leach from Dental Sealant” is available at our office.
The amalgam restorative material is composed of silver, copper, tin and mercury. Because this is a metal filling, the life expectancy is long-lasting like a gold filling. We understand that many are concerned about the effects of mercury in the body, so we also make informational articles available to our patients which hopefully help them to come to their own conclusions and to make a decision on the type of material that is right for them.
Many years ago, dentists would mix the amalgam material by hand without using a fixed, or controlled, amount of mercury. In order to prevent the unsafe, overabundance of mercury in amalgam, the material is now encapsulated, in regulated doses of mercury. We do not recommend the removal of large quantities of amalgam because the teeth may become sensitive and may require additional work (e.g. sedation, root canal therapy). If patients want this service performed, it is done as per the patients’ request.
Cast porcelain or fiberglass fillings are a new-er alternative to gold. They are beautiful, thought to be bio-compatible, stronger than composites, and some of them appear to have the strength of a metal restoration. They require two visits to place them and the techniques in preparing them are similar to the techniques use with cast gold. Their fee is similar to that of cast gold and the beautiful, blended cosmetically perfect smile they produce is often sought by many of our clients.
Sometimes What is “Old” is Actually “New”
Some new and unique ideas have come in the area of dentistry which include the use of vitamins to maintain the tissue strength and thereby improve the outcome of periodontal therapy. Herbal preparations including the use of garlic in fighting oral viral lesions is finally now under study, but has been used dentally for hundreds of years. There are alternative pain therapeutics that can help patients eliminate a great deal of their post operative discomfort, and most recently, a study was completed by members of the Academy of General Dentistry surrounding the use of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide in the maintenance of healthy tissue. This old standby proved to be a very effective means of controlling bacterial growth and odor.
The digestion of food begins in the mouth. Ineffective mastication (or chewing) of that food puts an undo stress on the remaining digestive system. We receive many question from practitioners involved in digestive tract distress as to whether their patients might be helped via dentistry. Another question that is frequently asked centers around halitosis, or bad breath. It is my belief that even though there are a growing number of dental practitioners selling bad breath monitors and treatments, the majority of cases are greatly helped by establishing a more healthy bacterial flora in the nasal cavities and by correcting digestive disorders. If any of my readers would have further questions about this, I hope you would drop me a line.
Please feel free to ask us questions about anything that seems unclear or something that is of particular interest to you. We encourage all of our patients to actively participate in the decision making process of treatment plans in order to make a choice that suits their needs.