Why is brushing important ?
Daily brushing and cleaning between your teeth is important because it removes plaque. If the plaque isn't removed, it continues to build up, feeding on the food debris left behind and causing tooth decay and gum disease.
How can plaque cause decay ?
When you eat food containing sugars and starches, the bacteria in plaque produce acids, which attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with teeth. After this happens many times, the tooth enamel can break down forming a hole or cavity.
How can plaque cause gum disease ?
Plaque can harden into something called calculus another name for it is 'tartar'. As calculus forms near the gumline, the plaque underneath releases poisons causing the gums to become irritated and inflamed. The gums begin to pull away from the teeth and the gaps become infected.
Are they as good as silver amalgam fillings ?
White fillings have always been considered less long lasting than silver amalgam fillings. But there are now new materials available with properties comparable to silver amalgam, and these are proving to be very successful. The life expectancy of a white filling can depend greatly on where it is in your mouth and how heavily your teeth come together when you bite. Your dentist can advise you on the life expectancy of your fillings. However, any fillings provided on the NHS are automatically guaranteed for one year.
Is it worth replacing my amalgam fillings with white ones ?
It is usually best to change fillings only when your dentist decides that an old filling needs replacing. If so you can ask to have it replaced in a tooth-coloured material.
Some dentists prefer not to put white fillings in back teeth, as they are not always successful. One way around this would be to use crowns or inlays, but this can mean removing more of the tooth and can be more expensive.
What are tooth-coloured fillings made of ?
This can vary, but they are mainly made of glass particles, synthetic resin and a setting ingredient. Your dentist should be able to give you more information about the particular material that they use.
Where can I get them done ?
Most dental practices offer white fillings as a normal part of the treatment they give you. However, white fillings are classed as a 'cosmetic' treatment, and you can therefore only have them if you pay for them.
Are there any alternatives to fillings ?
Adhesive dentistry is another form of this treatment. This involves bonding the filling to the tooth. The dentist has to remove less of the tooth, which is obviously better. As we have already said, there are alternatives such as crowns and inlays although they can cost a lot more. Veneers can be used on front teeth instead of crowns or fillings.