First introduced in the 1960s, composite resin technology has improved immensely in the past forty years. At first the fillings preformed poorly. Improvements in the structure starting in the mid 1980s allowed the white fillings to perform on par with silver fillings. The tooth-colored plastic and silicon dioxide (sand) mixture employed in these “white fillings” successfully withstands pressure and wear for many years. The longevity of composite resins is comparable to that of silver fillings.
Amalgams are the silver fillings used in your mouth. In the United States, they began to be used in 1833. Dental amalgam is made out of a mixture of metals such as silver, copper, tin, which is combined with mercury. The mercury makes up between 45-50 percent of the mixture and acts as a “glue” to bind the components into a hard, stable, and safe substance. This substance is manipulated and placed into the tooth. Amalgam is the least costly, quickest way to restore teeth, and is used in less than 25% of fillings.
As an alternative to the standard dental drill, air abrasion, or “micro-abrasion,” removes decayed tooth structure. Analogous to the sandblasting which cleans graffiti from walls,
air abrasion propels a stream of fine aluminum oxide particles onto the tooth to strip its surface of decay.
Most commonly, air abrasion prepares decayed teeth for composite fillings, restoration placement, or sealants. Minor cracks and discolorations may also be remedied with this technique.
Quiet and painless, air abrasion safeguards soft tissues and needs no anesthetic. This precise technology also preserves significantly more of your tooth reducing the risk of micro-fractures in the enamel.
Micro-abrasion is suitable for virtually all patients. Children, especially, may prefer this technique in lieu of traditional procedures with anesthesia and a noisy dental drill. Air abrasion, however, cannot be employed in treatments such as crowns, bridges, and deep fillings. After the procedure, simply rinsing with water will remove the accumulation of dusty particle residue in the patient’s mouth.