Dentist - Chicago
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Chicago, IL 60654
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By Reuben D. Collins, DDS
January 22, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: fillings  
Tooth-ColoredFillingsProvideaViableAlternativetoDentalAmalgam

For over a hundred years dental amalgam — a combination of silver, mercury, tin and other metals — has been an effective filling material for teeth damaged by decay. But it has one major drawback — its metallic appearance stands out in stark contrast to the natural color of teeth.

As an alternative, composite resin fillings can match the color, shape and texture of natural teeth. These materials and the techniques used to bond them are proving just as effective as and more aesthetically pleasing than dental amalgam.

Fillings help protect and preserve a decayed tooth. By first removing decayed tooth structure through drilling, the resulting void is filled with durable material that strengthens the tooth and provides it protection from further decay.

The ultimate goal for restoration is to return the tooth to as near normal form and function as possible. Dental amalgam serves well in terms of function, providing the tooth strength in the face of the daily biting forces it encounters. In contrast, composite resins excel in appearance, but haven’t always matched the durability of amalgam. They’re material construction has improved over time, though, as well as the techniques used to bond them to teeth.

Most of these bonding techniques incorporate layering. The first step is to seal the dentin (the porous, living tissue just below the enamel); we then build up the composite material layer by layer within the tooth using special bonding adhesive and curing lights. In some cases where a large volume of tooth structure must be replaced, the restoration is first formed on the tooth and then removed for curing before being cemented into the tooth or a separate restoration is formed by a dental lab.

The end result is a tooth which both looks and functions like a fully intact tooth. Though care must be taken not to subject composite resin restorations to undue forces (no cracking open nutshells, for example), your new filling should continue to serve you and look great for a long time to come.

If you would like more information on metal-free restorations, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.”

By Reuben D. Collins, DDS
October 06, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: fillings  
WhyYouShouldntWorryAbouttheMercuryinYourSilverFillings

Over the last century and a half millions of people have had a tooth cavity filled with “silver” amalgam. Perhaps you’re one of them. The use of this effective and durable filling has declined in recent years, but only because of the development of more attractive tooth-colored materials.

At the same time there’s another issue that’s been brewing in recent years about this otherwise dependable metal alloy: the inclusion of mercury in amalgam, about half of its starting mixture. Various studies have shown mercury exposure can have a cumulative toxic effect on humans. As a result, you may already be heeding warnings to limit certain seafood in your diet.

So, should you be equally concerned about amalgam fillings — even going so far as to have any existing ones removed?

Before taking such a drastic step, let’s look at the facts. To begin with, not all forms of mercury are equally toxic. The form causing the most concern is called methylmercury, a compound formed when mercury released in the environment combines with organic molecules. This is the form certain large fish like salmon and tuna ingest, which we then ingest when we eat them. Methylmercury can accumulate in the body’s tissues where at high levels it can damage various organ systems.

Dental amalgam, on the other hand, uses elemental mercury. Dentists take it in liquid form and mix it with a powder of other metals like silver, tin and copper to create a pliable paste. After it’s placed in a prepared cavity, the amalgam hardens into a compound in which the mercury interlaces with the other metals and becomes “trapped.”

Although over time the filling may emit trace amounts of mercury vapor, it’s well below harmful levels. You’re more likely to encounter “un-trapped” mercury in your diet than from a dental filling. And scores of studies over amalgam’s 150-year history have produced no demonstrable ill effects due to mercury.

Although it now competes with more attractive materials, amalgam still fills (no pun intended) a necessary role. Dentists frequently use amalgam in less visible back teeth, which encounter higher chewing pressures than front teeth. So, if you already have an amalgam filling or we recommend one to you, relax — you’re really in no danger of mercury poisoning.

If you would like more information on dental amalgam fillings, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Reuben D. Collins, DDS
July 22, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: fillings  
ItsanArtDeterminingToothColorinCompositeResinRestorations

It takes a lot of skill, experience, talent and artistry to create tooth restorations that look so natural that no one can tell them apart from the originals. To do so requires understanding of the normal anatomy of a tooth as well as of the interactions of light and color.

How the anatomy of a tooth determines color

The color that we perceive when looking at a tooth results from the combined appearance of the tooth’s center core (dentin layer) and its covering enamel. Going from the outside in, the enamel is made of tightly packed crystals of calcium, which cause it to be one of the hardest substances naturally produced by animals. The crystals are also responsible for a tooth’s brilliance and translucence. The dentin is more like bone, a porous living tissue composed of microscopic tubes, interspersed with more calcium crystals. In the very center of the tooth is a central chamber containing the pulp and nerves.

Each of these layers has its own physical and optical properties. Since the enamel is translucent and the dentin is more opaque, most of the tooth’s color comes from the dentin and is transmitted through the enamel layer. Factors that affect this transmission include the thickness and age of the enamel as well as external tooth whitening.

If the enamel is more translucent, more of the color of the dentin shows through. If it is more opaque, the enamel absorbs and reflects light so that less color is visible and the enamel looks brighter.

The language of color composition and reflected light

Color means the whole spectrum in the rainbow. The spectrum is made up of the three primary colors — red, blue, and green. When all are combined, they create white light.

Hue refers to the brightest forms of the colors. The color we perceive depends on the dominant wavelength of light that is reflected by an object.

Value refers to a color’s lightness or darkness. A brighter color has a higher value.

Chroma is the amount of identifiable hue in a color. An achromatic color (without hue) appears gray.

Saturation is a measure of a color’s intensity.

This terminology of color is used not only by dentists and dental technicians, but also by a wide range of artists. It implies expertise and understanding of how colors work, how they vary and change and affect one another.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about bonding to repair chipped teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor article, “Artistic Repair of Front Teeth with Composite Resin.”

By Reuben D. Collins, DDS
February 10, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
AreTooth-ColoredFillingsRightforYou

When you say “ahhhhh,” are you worried about all your unsightly metal fillings? If so, did you know that your dentist can resolve your concerns through the use of tooth-colored fillings?

The public's demand for aesthetic tooth-colored (metal free) restorations (fillings) together with the dental profession's desire to preserve as much natural tooth structure as possible has led to the development of special adhesive tooth-colored restorations. And the demand is not limited to just the front teeth. In fact, many people are opting to replace all of their metal fillings — not just those in the front teeth — so that all of their teeth appear younger, fresher and as if they have never had any cavities.

Can you really mimic natural teeth? Proper tooth restoration is a lot more than just filling holes. It is a unique art applied with scientific understanding. Each tooth's internal shape and structure is the guide to how it must be rebuilt to successfully restore it. However, choosing which material to use to restore or rebuild teeth is a critical one based on scientific understanding, experience and clinical judgment — expertise we use daily in our office. The most popular options include composite resins and porcelains, as they allow us to mimic natural tooth colors and shapes. But for the most life-like, natural tooth-colored filling, your best option is porcelain. Porcelain, which is built up in layers, can be made to mimic the natural translucency and contours of tooth enamel.

But what about matching the color? Will it really match? Absolutely! Whether we use resins or porcelain, through our artistry we will create absolute tooth-like replicas. You will never know your teeth have fillings! And unlike metal alloys, these newer materials bond directly to the remaining enamel and dentin of which the teeth themselves are made, thus stabilizing and strengthening them. These techniques are even suitable for children's teeth and can incorporate fluoride to reduce decay.

Still undecided? If so, we understand. Feel free to contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth-colored restorations. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth-Colored Fillings.”

By Reuben D. Collins, DDS
November 08, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
MimickingLifeWithTooth-ColoredFillings

The goal of restorative dentistry is to return the teeth to full form (shape) and function. For years, a key tool for achieving this goal has been through the use of metal amalgams (silver looking dental fillings). However, this technique does have some disadvantages. One is the fact that they can involve removal of healthy tooth structure to retain them. Too much “undercutting” can undermine and weaken a tooth resulting in less resistance to biting forces possibly leading to fatigue fractures and cracked tooth syndrome. Another approach is call “biomimetic” which literally means mimicking life. This approach to dentistry is made possible through the structured use of tooth-like materials such as composite resins. Scientific studies and clinical experience have validated their use as both safe and predictable.

By mimicking life, we rely upon our delicate balance of artistry, experience and expertise to provide you with properly restored teeth that function and wear normally, while appearing indistinguishable from natural teeth. Dental composite are now the most commonly used materials for tooth-colored adhesive restorations and have properties similar to a natural tooth's enamel and dentin. They consist of resin which are plastic and fillers made of silica (a form of glass). The fillers give the composites wear resistance and translucency (see through properties). However, most of the properties of enamel are also mimicked quite well by dental porcelains. Porcelains are a form of ceramic, that are formed by the action of heat. Dental porcelains come in all colors and shades so we can easily and perfectly match the color of virtually any natural tooth. As for longevity, porcelain is typically your best option because it is the closest option in mimicking a natural tooth.

To learn more on this subject, you can continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.” Or contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific questions.