Dr. Lorraine D. Hanna at Briarwood Valley Dentistry is proud to provide dental restoratives or fillings to her patients in the Kalamazoo and Portage, MI areas who have teeth which have been damaged by dental decay. Fillings can also be used to repair cracked or broken teeth and teeth that have become worn down from misuse, such as from a nail-biting or tooth-grinding habit.

When a dental filling is used, it provides strength to the damaged tooth. If a tooth affected by decay is not repaired in its early stages, the decay will worsen, wherein alternative, more extensive dental treatments may be necessary to save the tooth.

Types of Fillings

There are several types of fillings used today including amalgam (silver) fillings, gold fillings, and fillings made of porcelain. Among the newest types of fillings are those made of ceramic and plastic compounds which mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These types of filings are often used on the front teeth where aesthetics are important. However, they can also be used on back teeth, depending the extent of the decay.

What Type of Filling Should I Get?

When you visit our Kalamazoo family dentist for a filling, Dr. Hanna will discuss all your options with you. Some of the factors taken into consideration when determining what type of filling will be used to treat your affected tooth include:

  • The size and location of the decay/damage
  • The amount of remaining tooth structure
  • The chewing force the tooth will have to endure
  • The length and number of visits required to prepare and treat the affected tooth
  • Your personal preference in materials
  • How the filling will look in your mouth

It is important to know that not every type of filling works for all dental decay. For instance, highly durable silver-colored amalgam fillings are often the best choice for large cavities or for back teeth that must withstand the tremendous forces needed to chew food. During your visit with Dr. Hanna, she will discuss the different filling options which are available for you to help you decide what type of filling to get.

To help you prepare for your consultation with Dr. Hanna, it will be helpful to gain an understanding of the two basic types of dental fillings which are direct fillings and indirect fillings.

Direct fillings

Direct fillings are placed immediately into a prepared cavity in one office visit. These fillings can be made of resin composite, glass or resin ionomers or dental amalgam. Dr. Hanna will prepare the tooth, place the filling and then make the necessary adjustments to the filling in a single appointment.

Indirect fillings

Indirect fillings typically require two or more visits to our Kalamazoo, Mi office to see Dr. Hanna. These types of fillings are typically used in back teeth which are affected by large areas of missing tooth structure or decay. During the first appointment, Dr. Hanna will prepare the tooth and take an impression of the area that is to be restored. She will then place a temporary covering over the prepared tooth. The impression is sent to a dental laboratory so the dental restoration can be made. At the second appointment, Dr. Hanna will place the restoration into the prepared tooth and make any necessary adjustments.

Should I Be Concerned Over the Safety of Amalgam Fillings?

Silver-colored amalgam fillings are made of a combination of metals which include silver, mercury, tin, and copper. Trace amounts of zinc, indium, or palladium may also be used. There has been a good deal of concern raised over the mercury in amalgam fillings regarding how much harmful mercury in the form of vapor is released as the filling wears down. At high levels, mercury exposure is associated with adverse effects in the brain and kidneys. However, numerous studies have concluded that the amount of mercury vapor released from amalgam fillings in the mouth is very low. In fact, studies have shown that the amount of mercury people are exposed to from their fillings is far less than the amount most people are exposed to in their daily environment or from the foods they eat.

According the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is little scientific evidence to support that the health of people with amalgam fillings is compromised, or that removing these fillings offer any health benefits. In our office, we use the ISOLITE suction device or Rubber Dam to completely isolate the amalgam removal from the mouth. Our Kalamazoo practice has also had an amalgam separator in place since 2008 which is designed to catch and hold the excess amalgam waste so it is not released into the environment. If you have any questions or concerns regarding amalgam fillings, please feel free to contact us as we’re always more than happy to speak with you!

Schedule An Appointment with Your Kalamazoo & Kalamazoo Dentist

At Briarwood Valley Dentistry, we are proud to provide every member of your family with high quality, personalized dental care to keep your smiles healthy! If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hanna, please complete the Appointment Request form. One of our friendly team members will then contact you to help you set up an appointment time that’s convenient for you.