Dental Amalgam Fillings
When plaque or tartar builds up on a tooth, they can begin to rot away the enamel. Dentists and other medical professionals know these decayed spots as caries. You know them as cavities. Lack of proper dental hygiene, such as infrequent brushing, flossing, or regular cleanings by a dentist can all lead to the buildup of plague and tartar, as well as the bacteria associated with food and your own saliva. Though many cavities are caught while small and painless, a cavity that is left to fester can become extremely painful, as it can penetrate down to the root of the tooth fairly quickly.
When a cavity is detected, the decayed area must be removed so as to stop its spread, and the resulting hole must be filled, in order to keep the tooth strong and whole, and to protect the area from future cavities. Upon finding a cavity, Dr. Zadeh will have you make an appointment to come back and have the tooth filled. Your mouth will be numbed with several shots of Novocain, so that you won’t feel a thing during the procedures. Cavities that are extremely shallow may not require Novocain, but this is something to be determined on a case-by-case basis. For those who have extreme phobias of dental work, drilling, and/or of the needle used to inject the Novocain, Dr. Zadeh offers a whole range of options to keep you calm and relaxed during the procedure. For the anxious, Dr. Zadeh offers sleep dentistry, iatrogenic sedation, and chair-side entertainment, which includes movies, calf massages, warm blankets, and supportive assistants. Please see our page “Afraid of the Dentist?” for more information on these special offerings.
What Sort Of Dental Fillings Are There?
Two types of fillings are available for your cavity—composite and amalgam. Dr. Zadeh can help you decide which one is right for you. Amalgam fillings are not as common nowadays, since the invention of composite fillings, which can be colored to match your teeth. However, there are several advantages that amalgam fillings may have for you. Firstly, amalgam fillings are incredibly strong and withstand a great deal of pressure from biting, grinding, or chewing, which makes them a great option for back teeth or for those patients who are known to clench or grind their teeth. Secondly, the amalgam material is fairly inexpensive, and is usually covered by insurance companies.
There are, however, some drawbacks to amalgam fillings. Among the most widely known is that amalgam contains mercury, which is known to be toxic. However, studies go back and forth continuously about the safety of amalgam fillings; it is true that mercury is toxic, and is found in amalgam fillings, but studies have shown that people with amalgam fillings show no more signs of mercury poisoning than those with no fillings, usually attributed to the fact that the amount of mercury present in such fillings is so small, and very rarely ends up in the bloodstream. In addition, amalgam fillings can be more sensitive to hot and cold than composite fillings, amalgam fillings do not harden immediately and thus patients must wait several hours before eating, and finally, the dentist must make a larger hole for amalgam fillings, so more of the original tooth is lost.
Dr. Zadeh does not generally do amalgam fillings in most cases, due to their appearance and the potential risks and will always recommend composite fillings to his patients.