Everyone–well, maybe there are a few exceptions–thinks that the ugly, old looking metal tooth fillings are no longer a fashionable presence on our teeth. The advertising in magazines and of course on all the television channels promote a clean looking, healthy mouth as a result of whitening processes, improved oral hygiene and utilization of an enormous arsenal of dental products and devices. The cosmetic procedures offered today by dental medicine become more and more diverse and convenient for the patient. It is only natural, that the patient will address the problem of the old fashioned and unattractive metal fillings to their dentist. Particularly after experiencing the astonishing results of a recently done teeth whitening, the majority of such patients would want to know “what can be done about these ugly old fillings” which are now completely anachronistic in their newly found sense of oral aesthetic. The frequently put question . . . if such metal fillings can be replaced with tooth colored ones can be answered in many ways, depending on circumstances such as tooth conditions, patient general medical status, bite function, etc. just to mention a few of a long list of influencing factors. Based on the daily experience with our patients some very general considerations impose themselves as necessary discussion parameters to guide the aesthetically concerned patient to a medically correct and long term decision. It is understood that your dentist will propose the replacement of a dysfunctional and potentially dangerous old and broken metal filling and of course the patient will be delighted to see a much more attractive, white and very clean looking new filling in place. The question preoccupying your dentist involving such a treatment is not the need for replacement itself, but much more the decision of what to replace it with. Depending of the volume of your previous filling and the necessity of enlarging the cavity for sanitation purposes and decay elimination, your dentist may recommend the placement of a CROWN instead of a new, white filling. Why then the increased expense? Well, you want to consider a simple fact. Your tooth, once fully developed, cannot grow or change its dimensions. . . only the cavity inside will become larger each time another filling will be necessary. Consequently the walls of your tooth surrounding the new filling will be now much thinner than before. Your new repaired tooth may crack or break much easier under the pressure of chewing. The new filling will act now as a wedge inside your tooth, creating a strong pressure environment. A crown instead will prevent such mechanical stress and avoid the eventual collapse of the tooth structure. If the newly cleaned cavity, on the other hand, can be filled with only a new white filling without endangering the integrity of your tooth, your dentist will definitely elect this procedure and advise you for just that. Looking good is no doubt very important. . . but functioning for a very long time – ideally for life – under very stressed, mechanical conditions is whole other aspect of the problem. Your dentist will analyze and estimate the particular condition of your tooth and mouth and advise you into the aesthetically and dentally most safe direction. In conclusion, if metal fillings are not aesthetically challenging and free of cracks or secondary decays, the replacement with new white fillings may not be absolutely ideal. The technology of AIR ABRASION we have at our disposal today may enable your dentist to recondition and even repair old metal fillings without the need of replacement. Changing or not changing your old metal fillings with another one or a crown or even reconditioning them with the help of air abrasion technology, will definitely be the determined by your dentist based on the condition of your teeth and in consideration of the longevity of such repair. Ask your dentist before your take any decision. The life of your teeth definitely depends on it. In any case, your new restoration will look much better than before.
© 2011 All Rights Reserved, Dr Florian Braich DDS PhD