For the vast majority of Americans, tooth decay is a fact of life. A study published in 2015 by the Centers for Disease Control showed that 42 percent of children have at least one cavity (medically known as a dental caries). And it gets worse with age – By the time we reach 65, all but 4 percent of us has experienced a cavity and (hopefully) a filling of the damaged area.
The first recorded filling of teeth occurred in Europe in the early 1800s. 20th-century advancements took the artistry of filling teeth from its infancy to the host of advanced options available to today’s dental patients. From the soft metals in the early days, to the amalgams developed during 1900s, to modern porcelain and composite resin fillings used today, the techniques for repairing tooth loss are continuing to evolve.
Amalgams are the most widely used filling substance world-wide, despite growing concerns over radiant health risks associated with Mercury that many contain. In the U.S., metals have generally lost their luster as a surface material for damaged areas. This is partially due to those Mercury concerns, but also because amalgams darken over time and become more noticeable. The aesthetically-oriented nature of U.S. dentistry is driving numerous research efforts focused on improving the delivery, performance and appearance of fillings.
Modern composites are applied to damaged teeth as a fluid substance, and then ‘cured’ to hardness with ultraviolet light. New UV light activators allow a more complete repair of deeper cavities in teeth, and the addition of reinforced silica fibers to acrylic-based composites is reducing the shrinkage of fillers during the curing phase. Lithium disilicate glass-ceramic composite shows promise for its strength, durability and chemical properties that match the natural coloration of teeth.
Beyond traditional fillings, Meyer & Johns patients have many more choices for repairing damaged teeth, with options that include onlays, crowns and veneers. These options are especially important for filling cavities or damage on highly-visible front teeth. If you think you have a cavity, schedule an appointment today – we’ll find the problem, and offer a solution that will look and feel great!