Advantages of Tooth-Colored Restorations:
There are many advantages to tooth-colored restorations. Composite resin restorations are bonded to the teeth creating a tight, superior fit to the natural tooth. The tooth remains intact and stronger. These are best used in teeth that need small to medium sized restorations. They can be used in teeth that have broken, but if more than 25% of a tooth is missing, a porcelain onlay or crown is a much better choice. Since the resin used in tooth-colored restorations contain fluoride this can help prevent decay. The resin wears like natural teeth.
Another option for larger areas needing restoration is a porcelain onlay, These can be used on teeth with very large silver fillings, or one where a portion of the tooth has fractured. They are smaller versions of crowns and thus preserve more natural tooth structure. They require two visits, since an impression is taken, and a temporary onlay is placed while the custom one is being made in the lab.They are bonded to the remaining tooth.
Disadvantages of Silver fillings:
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/mercury fillings ultimately result in a weaker tooth structure. 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 decay get started once again. With age, the metal of a silver filling expands and can cause a tooth to fracture, requiring a crown or onlay. Silver fillings contain 50 percent mercury. They can corrode, leak and cause stains on your teeth and gums.
Replacing Silver Fillings with a Tooth Colored Restoration
Fortunately, silver fillings can safely be replaced with tooth-colored restorations. Composite restorations are ideal for small to moderate size restorations, although they can often be used to replace larger silver fillings. Porcelain inlays and onlays create fillings that are not only beautiful (and unnoticeable) but also add strength to weakened teeth. These restorations are esthetically pleasing and very strong thanks to new bonding technologies. Your teeth are restored to a natural look and feel, they are stronger and the tooth is protected!
Gold Inlays, onlays and crowns, while not used very much because of the advent of all the excellent porcelain materials we now have, are still one of the best restorations available, The main objection to them is their color. However they can be much thinner than porcelain restorations, thus removing less tooth structure, and stronger. They cannot crack like porcelain can. There are some areas of the mouth where they work very well, especially on second molars where the teeth are usually shorter. Also in some patients with chronic grinding (bruxism) gold metal biting surfaces with porcelain on the side are often the best choice, especially if a patient has fractured a porcelain to gold crown from bruxism.