These are fillings made of a plastic resin that binds a filler material that gives the final filling strength and wear resistance. Filler materials are typically quartz, silica, or glass bead and the plastic binder is a specific polymer of methacrilate. This is the standard white filling that has been used for the last 30 years.
Sealants fill in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of teeth, preventing food and plaque from lodging in those grooves, and preventing subsequent cavities.
Sealants on permanent molars reduce the risk of cavities by 80%.
The material used is a flowable modification of the composite material described above. Since we do not have decay and the resultant hole to fill in a tooth, for this procedure we need a material that will flow well into very tiny grooves that can harbor the cavity producing bacteria.
These are preformed crowns designed to provide durable and affordable complete coverage of a tooth with severe decay or other deterioration. They restore the chewing function of the tooth. They can be used for more conservative cavities to cover a tooth entirely to prevent additional cavities for someone at high risk for lots of cavities. There are versions of this crown with white resin plastic bonded to it for a more cosmetic appearance. The plastic is, however, subject to chipping and peeling from the crown.
An amalgam is a blend of several metals. In dentistry the traditional "silver" filling of the last 100 years is an amalgam of silver, mercury, copper, tin, and zinc. The metals are mixed at the time of placement in the cavity preparation. It is used for small to medium fillings and can be used for some very large fillings. With the development of plastic composite materials amalgam is used much less commonly today.
Dr. Ryan does not offer amalgam fillings.
These are materials used in adult dentistry for crowns. If you are interested in these materials you can call or e-mail us for a copy of the California Dental Materials Safety Data Sheet. Or ask your family dentist.