Caries On My Wayward Tooth

dental filingsOK, those aren’t exactly the lyrics of that overwrought Kansas song from the 70s, but they would work if they were singing about your tooth filled with decay.


It’s the most common form of oral disease known to man, dental caries. The process of getting caries is called tooth decay.

You may know them as “cavities.” But caries aren’t cavities, they’re decayed tooth tissue. Dr. Miller has to remove the decayed portion of the tooth, leaving an empty cavity. That’s probably where the term originated. Now, once created, that cavity can’t be left open, as food debris and bacteria would become lodged in there. It needs to be filled.

Ah, the origin of the word “filling.”

Dr. Miller and his team deal with dental caries every day. The question is what do you want to use for your filling?

Types of fillings

Everyone is familiar with silver fillings. Surprise, they’re not really silver, they’re actually mostly mercury! Holy toxic waste, Batman! Yes, that is disconcerting to many people. Silver fillings are made of silver amalgam. To make them, we mix mercury (50% of the eventual filling) with a powder comprised of silver, copper, tin, or zinc (usually a combination of some or all of those). There really isn’t any potential for harm from the mercury in your amalgam fillings. They’ve been studied by the FDA and they’ve been used since the 1800s. Still, some people don’t like the idea of being like a fish at the bottom of a river in Cleveland.

Composite fillings are becoming more and more popular because they’re very close to tooth color. The resin is made of a mixture of plastic and glass. Problem is composite fillings are not as durable as amalgam and cost more. But Dr. Miller places more and more composite fillings as the resin is improved a little bit every year, improving durability.

Ceramic or porcelain fillings have the admirable quality of being durable and having high aesthetic value because their color can closely match the natural color of the patient’s teeth. They are more expensive, but resist staining and aren’t easily scratched as composite resin can be.

Glass ionomer fillings are made of a combination of acrylic and glass. They are intended for children’s baby teeth because they only last five years and release fluoride to strengthen the surrounding natural teeth.

Gold fillings used to be popular, but not so much anymore because they are very visible and expensive. Still, they are very durable, sturdy, and non-corrosive.

If you have tooth pain, or tooth sensitivity to hot and cold, you may have a tooth with dental caries. Call Dr. Miller at 503-640-9310 to make and appointment.


Posted in: Dental Fillings

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