We are a mercury-free practice. However, many people still have silver/mercury fillings in their mouths from years past. These fillings are not particularly pleasing to the eye, and we know that by unavoidable design, silver fillings ultimately result in a weaker tooth structure. Tooth colored porcelain Inlay and Onlay Restorations as well as composite tooth colored fillings, create fillings that are not only beautiful (or unnoticeable) but also add strength to weakened teeth. These restorations are esthetically pleasing and very strong thanks to new bonding technologies.
Disadvantages of Silver fillings:
Silver fillings have many drawbacks. The edges of the silver filling can wear down, become weak or break. This results in the tooth not being protected and lets cavities get started once again. With age, the metal of a silver filling expands, contracts, and can cause fractures in remaining tooth structure.
Silver fillings stay in a tooth by mechanical retention only. They are not bonded to the tooth. This means that in order for a silver filling to stay in place, more tooth structure needs to be removed to increase the surface area and give ideal shape for retention which makes the tooth weaker.
Silver fillings contain 50 percent mercury. They can corrode, leak and cause stains on your teeth and gums.
Advantages of Tooth-Colored Restorations
There are many advantages to tooth-colored restorations. Resin onlays are bonded to the teeth creating a tight, superior fit to the natural tooth. Such restorations can be used in instances where much of the tooth structure has been lost. The tooth remains intact and stronger.
Since the resin used in tooth-colored composite restorations contain fluoride this can help prevent decay. Because the resin composite is bonded to your tooth, it requires less tooth structure to be removed for retention compared to silver fillings.
Differences between inlays, onlays and composite fillings
-Composite fillings are used for small areas of decay while inlays and onlays are used when a larger amount of tooth structure needs to be replaced
-Inlays and onlays are used when a greater strength material is necessary for example in a patient who grinds their teeth heavily
-Composite fillings are build up incrementally as a soft putty, molded to the missing tooth structure and light cured to harden them. Inlays and onlays are bonded to the tooth as a single piece of porcelain like a puzzle piece.
-Composite fillings are made of plastic and not as hard as tooth structure, while porcelain inlays and onlays wear like natural tooth structure
-Inlays and onlaysin general,last longer. Composites, due to the nature of the material, have some shrinkage over time which can lead to eventual leakage and or fracture
-Both are tooth colored, porcelain inlays and onlays maintain their color and will not stain over time, while composite fillings can pick up stain or discolor
-Composite fillings are less expensive than porcelain inlays and onlays