Conservative Fillings: Smaller Is Better

Over the last 30 plus years of dental practice, dentist in Newberg, Oregon Dr. Jennifer McLeod has seen many changes in how dental diseases are treated. One of the most exciting developments in preventative dental care is the use of tooth colored composite fillings instead of amalgam (or “silver”) fillings.

Amalgam Fillings

The old standby for filling teeth has been silver amalgam fillings. Amalgam fillings have traditionally been used to treat teeth that show evidence of cavities in order to prevent the progression of decay. Known as “silver” fillings, they are actually made of a combination of durable metals, which have been used safely for over seventy years and generally cost less than composite fillings.

Amalgam fillings, while economical, require a larger section of the tooth be cut away in order for the filling to remain in place.  To place a filling in the tooth, Dr. McLeod had to think like a cabinet maker, cutting dovetails into the tooth to lock in the filling, since these dental fillings are not able to be bonded to teeth. Any time silver amalgam is used, the filling is larger.

Advantages of Tooth Colored Composite Fillings

Tooth colored composite fillings bond to the teeth, providing a natural-looking alternative to amalgam fillings. At first, these tooth colored composite restorations required cutting large holes in teeth in order to complete. However, the team at Newberg Family Dental soon realized that they could rely on the bonding ability of the composite material to help hold the filling in the tooth. Simply put, with these more conservative fillings, Dr. McLeod can keep the size of the cavity in the tooth minimized, which leaves the tooth stronger.

The Difference is Visible

At Newberg Family Dental, Dr. McLeod and her team can now place fillings in the mouth that are smaller and more conservative, which allows teeth to remain strong. In addition, patients keep more natural-looking smiles through the use of composite materials, as they can be made to match the natural color of surrounding teeth. Whether placed in the front or back of the mouth, tooth colored composite restorations are a welcome change!