Don’t Get Caries Away

Beautiful woman portrait If you’re a Jets or Giants fan (although that is difficult at the current time!) you may keep up on statistics such as carries per game, yards per carry, and what not.

At Gentle Dental, we not concerned with totin’ the rock, as they say. We’re not concerned with Saquon Barkley’s carries, but we could be concerned with his caries.

His dental caries.

You may never have heard that word because you probably know it by another term, tooth decay. It’s the most common form of oral disease known to man, dental caries.

You probably think of them as “cavities.” But that term doesn’t really fit what’s going on. That term probably came from the fact that once the dentist cleans out the decay, what is left is a cavity. And that cavity can’t be left open, as food debris and bacteria would become lodged in there. It needs to be filled.

Hence, “fillings.”

Drs. Butcofski, Strober, and Hiess fill dental caries every day. While we can still fill teeth with silver amalgam, we now prefer to use composite resin fillings. Here’s why.

Mercury in your mouth

If you think those silver sections of your molars are, well, silver, you’re mistaken. They’re actually mostly made of mercury. Yep, just like certain areas at the bottom of New York Harbor! That is disconcerting to many people. Silver fillings are made of silver amalgam. To make them, dentists mix mercury (50% of the eventual filling) with a powder comprised of silver, copper, tin, or zinc (usually a combination of some or all of those). There really isn’t any potential for harm from the mercury in your amalgam fillings. They’ve been studied by the FDA, and they’ve been used since the 1800s. Still, most people don’t like the idea of being like a fish at the bottom of Lake Erie.

Disadvantages of amalgam fillings

Beyond their grey appearance, silver amalgam fillings have other drawbacks. The edges of the filling can wear down, become weak, or break. This creates an environment where decay can prosper. Basically, those spots are ripe for decay to take hold again in the same tooth. Also, with age the mercury, silver, and other metals in amalgam fillings expand and contract. This can make the filling split, or it can even crack a tooth. Plus, they can corrode, leak, and stain your adjacent teeth and your gums.

Tooth-colored restorations

That’s why at Gentle Dental we’re placing more and more tooth-colored restorations using composite resin. The resin is made of a mixture of plastic and glass, and it is bonded to the teeth in layers, making it structurally strong. Plus, composite resin fillings create a tight, superior fit to the tooth. And, unlike amalgam fillings, where a part of the healthy tooth needs to be removed to make room for the filling, resin composite fillings can be placed into teeth that have lost much of their tooth structure.

The problem with composite resin in the past has been durability; it just hasn’t been as strong or durable as silver amalgam. That has been changing. Over the past decade composite resin has been improved upon over and over to the point it now rivals amalgam for durability. Plus, composite fillings are basically invisible on your teeth…and there’s that little issue of mercury that you don’t need to fret about.

Is it time for your next professional cleaning and exam with the team at Gentle Dental? Call us at (732) 549-5660 to make your appointment.

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