• Tips to Prepare Your Child for Their First Dental Visit

    It’s important to schedule your child’s first dental visit before their first birthday. At that point, children’s baby teeth are starting to appear and are susceptible to decay and cavities. Although their baby teeth are not permanent, decay in baby teeth can lead to an increase in the risk of decay to their permanent teeth once they start to develop.

    Many new parents are surprised by this recommendation, but they also don’t realize that preschool-aged children are getting more cavities. In fact, 25 percent of kids had a cavity by age four in the United States. Cavities are appearing in children as early as two years old.

    Why Baby Teeth Are Important

    Parents who have never taken their child to the dentist often are surprised to find out that baby teeth (also called primary teeth) need to stay in place until they naturally fall out. Baby teeth are important for a number of reasons:

    Helping proper chewing

    Speech development

    Saving space for permanent teeth

    Supporting a healthy smile

    Preparing for the Initial Visit to the Dentist

    Preparation is a key to a successful first dental appointment for your child. Be sure to contact your dentist prior to your child’s first visit to discuss the procedures at the office so you avoid surprises. Have the dental office send you the forms you need to fill out for your child ahead of time. Or if they have online forms, use that option.

    Be sure to discuss your child’s first visit to the dentist in a relaxed and positive manner. They will pick up on any negative feeling you have about dental offices, so maintaining a patient and calm approach to their questions is important.

    Help your child practice brushing their teeth prior to the first visit so they will be used to the feel in their mouth of a toothbrush. Learn as much as you can about a child’s first dental visit and their oral health before you take them to the dentist for the first time. Delta Dental has a great set of resources on their website at www.mysmilekids.com. It’s filled with fun activities and interesting stories to teach kids about their teeth.

    Send a list of any medical issues that affect your child to your dentist, along with a list of medications they take. Keep the phone number for your child’s pediatrician easily accessible in case your dentist asks for additional health information.

    Finally, bring your child’s most-loved blanket, toy or stuffed animal so that they feel secure and comforted on their first visit to the dentist. 

    What to Expect At Your Child’s First Visit

    Make sure to schedule your child’s first dental visit early in the day so that they are alert and feeling fresh. Expect a bit of fussing from your child during the visit, but many parents are surprised how easily their child accepts the dentist’s examination. In fact, many kids like the novelty of the visit and the extra attention.

    Your dentist will check the development of your son’s or daughter’s teeth and look for any problems. They will do a thorough but gentle exam of your child’s teeth, jaw, bite, gums and oral tissues.

    This first visit is also a great time to chat with your dentist about tips for dental care for your child, including diet’s impact on oral health, risk of cavities, oral hygiene, use of fluoride, oral habits (thumb and finger sucking), and preventing trauma to their mouth.

    Developing trust with successful visits to the dentist will provide your child with an important foundation for their future oral health. This will reduce potential anxiety and fear, which will make for plenty of stress-free visits in the future. Most experts recommend that children see the dentist about every six months so don’t forget to schedule your child’s second appointment on your way out the door!

    Sources: Parents.com, KnowYourTeeth.com, Colgate.com, DeltaDentalIns.com

     

  • Give Your Teeth A Healthy Thanksgiving This Year

    If you’re looking for ways to make this year’s Thanksgiving meal a little healthier for your oral health, then we have seven tips to help you keep everyone’s teeth and gums happy this year.

    Slow Down on the Sugar

    If you love sweets, then Thanksgiving is often a sugared-filled delight for you. Marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, cranberry relish, and a variety of pies covered in whipped cream are often packed with sugar. That’s tough on your teeth because sugar is a favorite food of bacteria in your mouth. And bacteria consuming sugar is the first step in the creation of a cavity in your mouth. There’s a simple solution to avoid all that sugar switch to erythritol or xylitol. They don’t create cavities but are great as sweeteners.

    Beware of Brightly-Colored Foods and Drinks

    If your Thanksgiving spread includes red wine, cranberry relish, cherry or blueberry pie, then you might want to reconsider your choices. Brightly-colored food and drink can dull the enamel on your teeth and increase the odds of staining. So this year, cut back on bright foods and be sure to drink lots of water to wash away those stain-causers.

    Reduce the Starches

    Stuffing, cornbread and rolls are all starch-filled which is why most of us love them. But consider cutting down on the amount you eat this year. You’ll get a double bonus if you do that because you’ll be reducing the calories you consume and reducing the opportunity for bacteria in your mouth to use the starches as food (starches convert to sugar when you eat them) that can lead to cavities. This year have an extra portion of protein or vegetables instead of a starch-filled food.

    Acid Makes Your Teeth’s Enamel Unhappy

    Acidic foods and beverages are tough on the enamel that covers and protects your teeth. The reason? The acid softens your teeth’s enamel, making it easier for bacteria to start the process of creating cavities. Cranberry juice and red wine are the biggest culprits in terms of acidity. But you can reduce the impact by keeping a glass of water handy and sipping from it between drinks of your acidic beverage. Also, be sure to wait at least 30 minutes before you brush after you have eaten acidic foods. The acid softens your enamel and the bristles on your toothbrush can damage the enamel.

    Get A Little Nutty

    You can strengthen and remineralize your teeth by spending some time at the nut dish this Thanksgiving. That’s because nuts are loaded with calcium and good minerals. Plus the nuts produce lots of saliva when you chew them!

    Think Rainbow When You Fill Your Plate

    If your plate on Thanksgiving looks like a rainbow of colorful vegetables, then your teeth will be happy. That’s because vegetables are packed with minerals and vitamins. Orange and red vegies will provide you with lots of Vitamin C, while green leafy vegies will deliver lots of calcium. A bonus is the fact that chewing raw vegetables will create lots of saliva, which will naturally wash away your oral enemy bacteria. And don’t forget celery’s fibrous strands are great at helping clean between your teeth!

    Drinks Lots of Water…And Have a Cup of Tea

    Damage to your enamel caused by acids is reversed when you drink fluoridated tap water. You also double your cavity-fighting efforts if you brew some green or black tea using fluoridated tap water. Teas kill bacteria and thus fight cavities. Sipping water or tea while you eat will also wash away acids caused by starchy and sugar-laden foods.

    Sources: MouthHealthy.org (American Dental Association), DeltaDental.com, Colgate.com

  • Yummy Stuffing for Thanksgiving

    Dr. Andrew Heinisch recently joined Personal Care Dentistry, and our care team was excited to find out that he loves to bake (and is really good at it)! So we asked him for a favorite recipe of his for Thanksgiving, and he gave us this yummy recipe for Thanksgiving stuffing. The recipe is originally from his grandmother.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees

    9 X 13 Glass baking dish

    Lightly spray inside of dish with PAM

    Break white bread into 1-inch pieces, spread on cookie sheet, bake until crunchy (takes about an hour and a half)

    Or

    Buy a bag of pre-baked (saves time)

     

    Mix baked bread with:

    Seasoning salt

    Garlic salt

    Onion salt

    Poultry seasoning

    Sage (just a little)

    Dices white onion (I like onion so I use a whole onion)

    Diced green pepper (x1)

    Dices celery (I like celery so I use the whole stalk)

    Butter (1 stick, softened)

    If you like gizzards go ahead and add them

     

    Add chicken broth until mixture is sticky (Don’t want it dry but don’t want it soaking.  You will be adding two eggs.)

    Taste and add additional seasoning to your liking.

    Add 2 eggs (I always add the eggs last so that I can taste it to get my seasoning just right)

    Place in baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.

    Baking time will vary depending on how chicken broth was added. On average about an hour. It is done when a toothpick comes out clean. The inside will be soft and the outside will be crispy.

  • This Is a Practice That Values Building Person-to-Person Relationships

    When Dr. Andrew Heinisch decided to move his dental career to the Twin Cities in the Fall of 2018 from Worthington, Minnesota, he had a wide range of options in where he would practice and how he would practice. I looked at both private practices and chain practices, in both downtown locations and suburban offices. But I kept finding that their goal was not to develop patient relationships based on trust and quality of care.

    But when Dr. Heinisch interviewed with Dr. Walter Hunt, founder of Personal Care Dentistry, and spent time getting to know some of the care team at the Roseville practice, he knew he had found a new home. They really do provide personal care at Personal Care Dentistry, he says. I knew pretty quickly that it was a practice that fit me.

    Since joining the Personal Care Dentistry team, Dr. Heinisch’s initial impressions have been accurate. This is a practice that values building person-to-person relationships with their patients. They treat their patients as people, not a set of teeth. The staff are very kind and are genuine in the way they treat patients and talk to them. I see a lot of smiling team members at Personal Care Dentistry.

    That approach to patients fits Dr. Heinisch’s philosophy. Dentistry should revolve around the patient, and if they are happy I am happy.

    Dr. Henisch grew up in St. Paul and went to Harding High School. He worked office jobs in two Twin Cities hospitals after he graduated from high school, including three years when he managed to juggle both full-time jobs. Eventually he decided to enroll at the University of Minnesota as an undergraduate and majored in biochemistry. He worked the entire time he was at the U of M, and also volunteered at the Union Gospel Mission and taught GED classes in math and science. Dr. Heinisch graduated in 2010 from the University of Minnesota, and then was accepted in the dental program at the University of Iowa.

    I was attracted to dentistry because it is a medical profession that is its own specialty and I was always attracted to the medical field, notes Dr. Heinisch. I have always been interested in oral health and dentistry was the perfect field for me to pursue.

    Dr. Heinisch graduated in 2014 with a dental degree, and joined a practice in Iowa Falls that had several clinics in Iowa and Minnesota. He worked in their clinics in Fort Dodge and in Des Moines for a year, and then moved up to Worthington, Minnesota in 2015 to work in their dental office.

    Dr. Heinisch believes in giving back to his community. I have always wanted to serve underprivileged populations. I was on a Kiwanis board and helped with a free clinic we offered services to people who couldn’t get service.

    Dr. Heinisch and his wife Brandy live in downtown St. Paul and have one daughter Nadia who was born in the summer of 2018. They also have a pair of dogs Roxie and Piffy – and a cat named Brady (Dr. Heinisch’s wife is a New England Patriots fan). They like to bike and kayak and Dr. Heinisch loves to spend time in his kitchen baking.

     

     

     

  • Dr. Walter Hunt – Practicing the Golden Rule of Dentistry Since 1977

    Most people are familiar with the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And most of Personal Care Dentistry’s patients know that the Golden Rule guides the dentists and staff at the clinic when they are assisting or treating patients. But when did Dr. Walter Hunt, DDS, the founder of the practice, start implementing the Golden Rule as a driving force at Personal Care Dentistry?

    From the first day he opened his practice in 1977 on Hamline Avenue, Dr. Hunt emphasized the Golden Rule of Dentistry.  According to Dr. Hunt, Our practice has always taken the time to really listen to our patients and provide close, personal attention to best customize their care. I know the kind of care that I demand as a patient, and that is the kind of care that I strive to provide. I call it ‘Golden Rule Dentistry.’ It is a philosophy shared by all of our staff members.”

    But you have to go back even further than 1977 to learn about how and why he developed his approach to dentistry that focuses on compassionate care.  Dr. Hunt grew up in northwestern Indiana in a small town named Merrillville. By the time his family moved to Minnesota at the beginning of his junior year of high school, he had become an accomplished athlete in both football and baseball. It was then that he also reached a defining moment in his life, one that has influenced his approach to life and dentistry.

    Even today, I still feel like I get more out of caring for others than they do. I love being here at Personal Care Dentistry. – Dr. Walter Hunt

    My family didn’t have much money we lived in a poor neighborhood in Merrillville so I had a lot of friends who were also poor. But because I was a good athlete, I also had a group of friends who came from families with money. And I didn’t like the way the kids with money would treat the poor kids. It was then that I vowed that I would always treat everyone equally with the same amount of caring and respect, emphasizes Dr. Hunt. The worth of a person should not be defined by what they have or how they look.

    For Dr. Hunt, being a dentist and the founder of Personal Care Dentistry is not a job. It is a passion. He has had the same goal for almost half a century treat people with dignity and respect, and as a dentist, provide them with the best care possible.

    This is my passion, and this is how I can contribute to helping other people have better lives. Even today, I still feel like I get more out of caring for others than they do. I love being here at Personal Care Dentistry, concludes Dr. Hunt.

  • 8 Options for A Great Grin

    If you feel like your pearly whites need some help to enhance your smile, then you have an array of options to choose from at Personal Care Dentistry. These range from changing the shape of your teeth to closing gaps in your smile; from making them whiter to removing plaque and taking care of cavities.

    Here are 8 common dental procedures that will help you have a happy, healthy smile!

    Teeth Whitening

    Over time, your teeth often lose their shade of white because of the chemicals in the food and drink that you consume. Personal Care Dentistry can create a customized mouthpiece tray that makes sure you’ll get the correct amount of whitening solution on your teeth when you use the tray.

    Crowns

    Crowns are designed to completely cover your tooth, giving it a normal appearance and shape. Crowns also called caps are used by the team at Personal Care Dentistry for a variety of dental problems. These range from using a crown to cover a large filling to providing a weak tooth with added protection. Crowns are also used after a root canal procedure, to cover a dental implant, or hold a dental bridge in place.

    A variety of materials can be used to make a crown, including metal, porcelain fused to metal, resin, or ceramic materials. Although more costly than some other dental procedures, permanent crowns can have a long life if you take good care of them.

    Bonding

    If you have teeth with extra space between them, or teeth that are broken, stained, chipped or cracked, then bonding might be the answer to your dental problem. Bonding can often be done in one office visit and involves applying an etching solution to the tooth and then adding tooth-colored materials (often a composite resin) to the tooth’s surface. Bonding usually lasts for several years, but is more likely to chip or become stained vs. other restoration types.

    Veneers

    Veneers are usually made of porcelain and are designed to cover the front of your tooth to alter the color and shape. They last longer than bonding and give your tooth a better appearance. They are usually a bit cheaper than crowns. Veneers can help teeth that have spaces between them, are permanently stained, are chipped or worn, are slightly crooked, or are shaped poorly. When you come in for your initial visit, the dentist at Personal Care Dentistry will take a tooth impression. On your second visit, the dentist will prepare the tooth before cementing the veneer on the tooth. The dentist then uses a light beam to harden the cement.

    Enamel Shaping and Contouring

    This procedure can help alter the shape, length or position of your teeth. The dentist uses dental enamel to enhance your teeth’s appearance. Reshaping and contouring often is used to correct overlapping or crooked teeth, irregular and chipped teeth, or minor bite problems. It is often used in conjunction with bonding.

    Bridges

    Often a dental bridge is called a fixed partial denture. It is used to replace teeth you are missing with artificial teeth and can be made of porcelain, gold, alloys or a combination of materials. Dental bridges are anchored onto other teeth after preparing them for crowns. Then a false tooth joins to the crowns and the bridge is cemented onto the prepared teeth.

    Braces

    If you have crooked teeth or suffer from an underbite, overbite, or other problems with your jaw or teeth – braces are often your best solution. It can take a few months to several years depending on the severity of your dental issue. Braces can be made from ceramic, metal or plastic, with wire connecting them. The process is often uncomfortable, but the end result is worth it to many people.

    If the problem you need correcting is not severe, you may be able to use clear aligner trays to address your problem. This approach is more convenient and less painful, but often more expensive. But for many people, the cost is worth the outcome.

    Implants

    While implants can be one of the more expensive dental procedures, they are one of the best solutions to dental problems because of their permanence and stability. Many people prefer them to removable dentures (which can fall out easily). Your dentist at Personal Care Dentistry surgically connects the implant to your jawbone. The result is strikingly realistic looking teeth that won’t lose their shade of white. There are multiple steps involved in putting in an implant, so you’ll need to visit your dentist several times over many months.

    Of course, many of the solutions we’ve outlined aren’t needed if you take care of your teeth through proper oral hygiene, Be sure to brush twice daily, floss daily, and visit Personal Care Dentistry every six months for a check-up and dental hygiene cleaning.

    Sources: Worldental.org, WebMD

  • Alternatives to a Candy-Filled Halloween

    Every year about this time, when spooky ads abound and grocery aisles are fully stocked with individual-sized candy, you might be pondering whether you should stock up on the sugar-laden treats for the neighborhood kids or should you look for healthier alternatives that won’t negatively impact oral health and won’t evoke a look of disgust from the children?

    You can find tooth-friendly healthy food treats and fun non-food gizmos that will please the most ardent candy-lover you just have to spend some time looking for the right healthy Halloween items. These healthy treats that you drop into trick or treaters’ Halloween buckets can be delicious, good for them and don’t have to start with ‘c’ and end in ‘y’.

    From the Pantry

    Gone are the days when you could bake a batch of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies or popcorn balls and pass them out. Most parents are hesitant to let their kids enjoy anything that is not individually wrapped. But there are plenty of individual portion treats to satisfy even the most discriminating costumed child.

    Favorites from the pantry include:

    • Raisins
    • Pretzels
    • Juice boxes
    • Mini water bottles (they need them to help wash down the candy while trick or treating)
    • Plain cookies (graham crackers, Teddy Grahams, vanilla wafers, etc.)
    • Baked chips, baked tortilla chips
    • Popcorn
    • Lowfat granola or cereal bars
    • Sugar-free gum

    Believe it or not, a few random non-candy items in the sack are fun to discover for both parents and kids. Moms and dads delight in finding nutritious nibbles that they can borrow to put in Johnny’s lunchbox. The kids like the variety and often end up eating or drinking the nutritious treats while trick or treating for respite from all the candy.

    Party Store Goodies

    If you opt to generate a little more enthusiasm from your neighborhood gang, try the numerous non-food items that kids love. These items will often generate bigger smiles than the typical sugar-laden candy that is the norm on Halloween. Keep your eye out for small inexpensive gadgets and things that kids love to collect such as:

    • Decorative pencils
    • Small rubber balls
    • Erasers
    • Rubber ghosts, goblins, witches
    • Waxed lips
    • Glow sticks
    • Stickers
    • Key chains
    • Marbles
    • Tic-tac-toe or other small games
    • Bubbles
    • Chalk
    • Coloring books
    • Crayons

     

    So How Bad is a Bucket of Candy?

    OK, so you decide to wear your parent hat, remembering fondly the thrill of your own childhood when you came home after Halloween night and spilled out all your goodies onto the living room floor. Why would you want to deny kids this same memorable experience? Granted, there is nothing wrong with candy in small doses. The problem is that more kids today are overweight or obese and it is a serious health problem. Is Halloween the time or place to correct this national problem? No, but it sure doesn’t hurt to sprinkle a few non-candy items to help reduce the temptation to pig-out on candy.

    If candy you must, choose non-chocolate types that contain fewer calories without caffeine-like stimulants. Hard candies, jelly types, licorice are good examples of candy without the extra fat calories of chocolate and sans potential stimulants.

    A Dose of Parental Guidance

    As a parent, it is best to establish a plan of how all this candy will be consumed. Ideally, the distribution of the candy will be the parent’s responsibility, otherwise, you may find meals skipped in preference to candy fests. Dole it out in moderation. If you have a very active child who is of normal weight, you can be more generous but not so much that it affects their appetite. Remember, kids are growing and need lots of nutrients that are not found in candy. Candy needs to be considered a treat, to be consumed after satisfying the body’s need for vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

    SOURCE: WedMD.com, TealPumpkinProject.com

  • What You Need to Know About Bruxism

    If you are one of those folks who regularly grind your teeth, then your condition is called bruxism. It can lead to damage to your teeth and other oral health issues.

    So why do people grind their teeth? Generally, teeth grinding or clenching is from stress or anxiety and it usually occurs at night when you’re sleeping. You’re more apt to suffer from bruxism if you have an abnormal bite or if you are missing teeth or have crooked teeth.

    You probably suffer from bruxism if you have a constant, dull headache or your jaw is regularly sore. Also, your loved one may hear you at night when you are sleeping and grinding your teeth. If you do think that you may have bruxism, consult with your dentist at Personal Care Dentistry. He will examine your jaw and mouth for signs of grinding and look for abnormalities and/or tenderness in your jaw and teeth.

    We see some patients at Personal Care Dentistry who come in with teeth that have been fractured, loosened or are even missing because of a long-term history of grinding their teeth. Sometimes their teeth have been ground down to mere stumps. The solution? Crowns, bridges, implants, root canals,  and partial or full dentures.

    Additionally, health issues stemming from bruxism’s impact on your jaw can include hearing loss, worsening of TMD and TMJ, and changes in your face’s appearance.

    So what can you do to stop grinding your teeth or reduce its impact?

    Have your dentist at Personal Care Dentistry fit you with a night mouth guard to protect your teeth while you sleep.

    Find ways to reduce your stress if that is a contributing factor to your bruxism. Depending on your personal situation, counseling for stress, regular exercise, physical therapy, and prescription muscle relaxants are some of the options you may consider.

    Cut back from your diet or cut out foods and drinks that have caffeine. These include colas, coffee and coffee.

    Skip the alcohol because you grind your teeth more intensely after consuming alcohol.

    Avoid chewing anything that isn’t food thinks like pencils or pen caps. Chewing gum can also be a problem since it makes your jaw muscles more used to clenching and increases the likelihood that you will grind your teeth.

    Teach yourself not to grind or clench your teeth. If you position the tip of your tongue between your teeth while you’re awake, you’ll train your jaw muscles to relax. At night, hold a warm washcloth against your check in front of your earlobe to relax your jaw muscles.

    SOURCE: WebMD

  • Are Dental Implants The Right Solution?

    Because of advances in dental science in the last two decades, dental implants have become a viable alternative for replacing missing teeth. The dentists at Personal Care Dentistry have extensive experience and excellent success rates in using implants to help patients replace teeth, relieve pain, restore chewing ability and improve facial tissues in the process. Dental implants are natural looking, secure and durable, lasting for years to come.

    Your dentist at Personal Care Dentistry can evaluate your dental needs and let you know if dental implants would be the right solution for your unique case. They will thoroughly examine your existing teeth and bones, your lower and upper jaws, and your gum before recommending implants. Most patients with adequate bone mass can qualify for dental implants, although it varies among individuals. Typically an X-ray and CT-scan are performed to determine if you have enough bone to place the implant, as well as to verify the size and kind of implant that should be placed.

    If the implant site does not have enough bone volume to support the appropriate-sized implant, you will need a bone graft. Bone loss can be the result from periodontal disease, injuries, cysts, infections or an extracted tooth. Bone grafts are very safe and effective in the dental implant restoration. Once it is placed, it will help replace missing bone, stimulate bone formation and increase bone volume.

    Structurally, dental implants are titanium-based posts that are surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath your gums where a lost tooth’s root once lived. During the following three to six months, your bones grow around and adapt to the implant as if they were natural roots. Once the implants are firmly in place and the surrounding gum tissue is strong, they are ready to support a crown or restored tooth. Implants can also be used to support full or partial dentures, dramatically improving denture retention and stability. When the process is completed, the “new” teeth are often hard to tell apart from a patient’s original teeth.

    Because implants fuse to your jawbone, they provide stable support for artificial teeth. Dentures and bridges mounted to implants won’t slip or shift in your mouth an especially important benefit when eating and speaking. This secure fit helps the dentures and bridges as well as individual crowns placed over implants feel more natural than conventional bridges or dentures.

    For some people, ordinary bridges and dentures are simply not comfortable or even possible, due to sore spots, poor ridges or gagging. In addition, ordinary bridges must be attached to teeth on either side of the space left by the missing tooth. An advantage of implants is that no adjacent teeth need to be prepared or ground down to hold your new replacement tooth/teeth in place.

    If you would like more information about dental implants and if they are the right solution for your oral health needs, make an appointment for a free implant consultation with the dentists at Personal Care Dentistry.

    SOURCE: American Dental Association, Colgate.com

  • Amalgam vs. Composite Resin Fillings

    Your body has an amazing ability to repair and heal itself. As an example, when you break a bone, your body can create new cells that glue the broken bone back together. However, the body’s ability to repair itself doesn’t include your teeth. Once you injure a tooth or develop a cavity in it, your body can’t repair the tooth itself.

    If you do develop a cavity in one of your teeth, your dentist can provide you with a range of options to repair and fill the problem tooth. In this blog we’ll just focus on the two most popular common fillings, amalgam and composite resin.

    Amalgam Fillings

    Most people know amalgam fillings as silver or mercury fillings because they are made from silver, copper, tin, zinc and mercury. They’ve been used by dentists for nearly 200 years. When combined, the metals initially produce a soft material that the dentist uses to fill your tooth. Quite quickly, however, the metals harden as they combine. Multiple studies have shown that amalgam fillings are safe. Although pure mercury is toxic, the mercury found in amalgam fillings is locked inside when the filling hardens and is therefore not harmful.

    Composite Fillings

    Composite resin fillings are also called white fillings, tooth-colored fillings or direct veneers. They are made my using bits of silica and covering them with a plastic resin compound. This is a newer approach to fillings used by dentists, and the technology is constantly improving. When a dentist fills a tooth with a composite filling, it has the consistency of modeling clay until a bright blue light is shined on the filling by the dentist. A series of chemical reactions hardens the composite resin into a sturdy material that resembles your natural tooth.

    How Do You Decide What to Choose?

    Here’s a list of nine factors you should consider when deciding on whether you should get an amalgam filling or composite filling.

    1 Amalgam fillings are stronger than composite fillings. Amalgam fillings are often used on the back teeth because of their strength. Your back teeth absorb the most force when you bite down and/or chew.

    2 Composite fillings are more expensive than amalgam fillings. If you’re on a tight budget, amalgam may be your best choice.

    3 Amalgam fillings last longer than composite fillings. Eventually, composite fillings will last as long as amalgam. But that time isn’t here yet, so if you want your filling to last a long time, pick amalgam.

    4 Composite fillings are less noticeable than silver amalgam fillings. Most people won’t notice an amalgam filling on your back teeth. But if you don’t like the look of silver, go with composite.

    5 Amalgam fillings contain mercury. It is true small amounts of mercury are released by amalgam fillings but it’s less than you get from eating fish. However, if you are allergic to mercury, an amalgam filling could be a problem.

    6 Composite fillings may leak out Bisphenol-A. In large enough doses, the chemical bisphenol-A can be toxic. However, studies have found that the amount of Bisphenol-A released from a filling is unlikely to cause any harm.

    7 Amalgam fillings require the dentist to remove healthy tooth structure. Since amalgam fillings don’t bond to the tooth like composite fillings, the dentist has to make the filling wider at the bottom than it is at the top so that the tooth will hold the filling in place. In order to do this, the dentist usually has to cut away healthy tooth structure. With composite fillings, the dentist can simply remove the decay and then place the filling without cutting away healthy tooth structure to retain the filling.

    8 Composite fillings shrink when they harden. Most composite fillings get somewhere between 2-5% smaller when they harden. Sometimes this can lead to gaps between the filling and the tooth which allow bacteria to enter and start a new cavity. Other times, when a large composite filling shrinks as it hardens, it can put stress on the tooth which results in increased sensitivity of the affected tooth. The effect of the shrinkage can be minimized if the dentist adds the composite in small, incremental layers.

    9 Composite fillings are more technique-sensitive. This means that the dentist has to pay close attention to detail when placing a composite filling. For example, if your dentist doesn’t properly prepare the tooth with an etching solution for a specific amount of time, or if they do, but some of your saliva gets onto the tooth after it is etched, the filling may not attach to the tooth tightly and could end up leaking and ultimately needing to be replaced after only a year or two.  Our dentists have lots of experience doing white fillings and will do a good job.

    Give us a call to discuss any questions you may have about amalgam vs. composite resin fillings. We would be happy to answer your questions and give you additional information.

    Source: WebMD, DentalFearCentral.com