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The field of dentistry has said good-bye to dental amalgams. Although there has never been any scientific proof that the mercury in amalgam fillings ever presented any health hazards, there are newer materials that offer a more natural look and last longer. However, traditional dental restoratives still include base metal alloys and gold when restored teeth must withstand the extreme force of chewing. With researchers constantly developing aesthetic materials like ceramic and plastic compounds, dentists today have a wide choice of materials to use in repairing decayed or damaged teeth. Here’s an overview of alternatives to silver amalgams that dentists use today.
Composite fillings are a blend of powdered ground glass particles and acrylic resin. The main advantage of these types of fillings is aesthetics. The shade and color of the composite fillings often closely match the shade and color or existing teeth. You get an even look that looks natural. Typically, composites are used for visible parts of the smile, such as the front teeth. Composite fillings chemically bond to the tooth’s structure and provide support. They can be used for worn, broken, decayed and chipped teeth. When compared to amalgam fillings, less tooth structure needs to be removed when removing decay and preparing the filling. All in all, composite fillings offer resistance to fracture and are durable for moderate chewing pressure.
Glass isomers are made of glass and acrylic materials. These are typically used for fillings below the gum line and for fillings in younger children. The upside to glass isomers is that they are natural looking and release fluoride to protect the tooth from future decay. The downside is that glass isomers are more prone to fracture and weaker than composite resin. Because they have a low resistance to fractures, glass isomers are most commonly used in small non-load bearing fillings, areas that don’t need to withstand heavy chewing pressure and on roots of the teeth. Although glass isomers mimic natural tooth color, they lack the natural translucency of enamel. Glass isomers are well-tolerated by most patients. On rare occasion, there may be an allergic response.
Porcelain and Ceramic Dental Materials
Porcelain and ceramic dental materials for tooth restoration include ceramic and glass like fillings. For a picture-perfect smile, these materials are ideal. The color and translucency both provide the look of your natural tooth enamel. Compared to composites, there is less chance of staining. Often, these materials are used for aesthetic veneers, crowns, onlays and inlays. Veneers are a very thin layer of porcelain that are placed over the enamel of a tooth. These restorations typically take several visits, and the bonding process is vital for durability. If there is not an adequate thickness, porcelain and ceramic restorations can be prone to fracture with chewing.
Dental sealants were developed in the 1950s and introduced on the market in the 1970s. The first sealant was approved by the American Dental Association Council on Dental Therapeutics in 1972. Today, dental sealants are a mainstay in dental care, as people are beginning to recognize their effectiveness in maintaining good dental health.
Tooth decay affects over 50 percent of America’s children by the age of 19. One of the best ways to prevent cavities is dental sealants. Dental sealants are thin plastic films painted on the chewing surface of teeth. Overall, dental sealants are a cost-efficient and safe dental procedure. The majority of children’s cavities occur in the grooves and pits of new teeth. This occurs because bacteria and food particles are difficult to clean in these areas. Because of this, children are good candidates for dental sealants. Dental sealants act as a protectant from bacteria and food particles. Along with a healthy diet, brushing regularly with fluoridated toothpaste and having bi-annual dental check-ups, dental sealants are 100 percent effective in preventative dental care.
Dental sealants are easy to apply, and it takes just a few minutes to seal individual teeth. The tooth is first cleaned, and then the sealant is painted on the tooth. Dental sealants harden and bond directly to the tooth. Some dentists use a curing light to help speed up the hardening process. Depending how many teeth are being sealed, the process can take anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes. The process is also painless.
The tooth’s surface is protected from decay as long as the dental sealant remains intact. Usually, dental sealants hold up well with normal chewing. On average, they last about five years before a reapplication may be needed. During a regular dental visit, your dental professional will check the condition of the sealants.
Who Benefits from Dental Sealants?
For the most part, children and teenagers benefit the most from dental sealants. This is because newly erupted teeth have susceptible surfaces. It is recommended that children get dental sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. This offers the best protection for cavity-prone years of six to 14. Even adults with fillings in their molars can benefit from dental sealants. However, adults who have existing grooves and pits in their teeth without fillings can also benefit from dental sealants. Studies have proven that just about everybody has a 95 percent chance of developing cavities in the grooves and pits of their teeth.
In the past, dental coverage did not include benefits for dental sealants. However, as dental sealants have become a proven preventative method in dental care, many health insurance companies are starting to offer some coverage. Dental insurance companies are beginning to recognize that sealants are an effective preventative measure that helps reduce the costs of more aggressive forms of dental treatment and the need for future dental treatment.
For all of your dental care needs, you can rely on the expertise of Dr. Ala Dean Attar. In addition to fillings and dental sealants, Dr. Attar offer many other dental services, such as dental implants, extractions and dentures. Dr. Attar believes in minimally invasive dental treatment. With patient education and expert skills in tooth restoration, he can give you a great looking smile. He embraces advanced technology and utilizes state-of-the-art equipment in his family practice including digital radiographs and Biolase laser equipment. With the Biolase laser and air abrasion technology, young patients can be treated without the need for a gum injection.
In addition to caring about his patients, he focuses on patient education, so patients can make informed decisions about their treatment programs. Dr. Attar services patients in the Libertyville, Lake Forest, Vernon Hills, Gurnee and Great Lakes areas. If you’re looking for a great Libertyville dentist, be sure to give us a call.