Fillings used to be pretty straightforward: just about every filling placed for about the last century and a half were silver amalgam. You could tell how many fillings a person had by how many teeth had silver down in the chewing surfaces of their molars. But despite their basic safety (the FDA has long found silver amalgam to be safe), once people began to find out more about silver amalgam — it is made from about 50 percent mercury, along with other metals — they weren’t so sure they wanted fillings made of this stuff.
Enter tooth-colored fillings. These are made either from composite resin, which is a mixture of acrylic resin and powdered glass or from dental porcelain. Both options create fillings that are basically invisible when placed in a tooth, but there are advantages to porcelain fillings. Dr. Wiitala prefers porcelain fillings for our Scottsdale patients whenever possible.
What are porcelain fillings?
Porcelain fillings are actually made from dental-grade ceramic. Because they are made from pure ceramic, they have added strength and durability. Unlike composite resin fillings, where the resin is placed as liquid and then hardened, porcelain fillings are fully hardened when cemented directly to your tooth.
For our porcelain fillings, Dr. Wiitala uses our CEREC system, where the filling can be designed and milled right in our Scottsdale offices. This makes these single-visit restorations, usually completed in less than an hour.
What are the benefits of porcelain fillings?
Patients wonder why Dr. Wiitala prefers to place porcelain white fillings whenever possible, rather than composite resin. Porcelain fillings have various advantages over composite resin and silver amalgam.
- Porcelain fillings have superior strength.
- Porcelain fillings wear at a similar rate to natural tooth enamel.
- Porcelain provides a more natural-looking repair, as dental ceramic closely resembles natural tooth enamel in the way it absorbs and reflects light.
- Porcelain fillings are highly resistant to staining, far more than composite resin.
- Placing a porcelain filling requires little removal of tooth structure compared to silver amalgam.
- Compared to composite resin, porcelain white fillings are the choice for larger fillings on molars, as they can withstand bite forces better.
- Porcelain fillings last at least twice as long, and often even longer, than composite resin fillings.
- Porcelain is smoother than composite resin in the tooth.
- Porcelain fillings cost three to four times more, but when compared with composite resin fillings that need to be replaced every four to five years, the difference in cost and coming in for appointments still comes out in favor of porcelain.
- Porcelain fillings have the same success rate as gold fillings, 93 percent after 15 years.
- Porcelain fillings don’t expand and contract, as silver amalgam does, so they cannot crack a tooth.
How is a porcelain filling placed?
After the patient is fully numbed, Dr. Wiitala removes any decay and the filling (if it is being replaced). Next, he takes the 3D intraoral camera with our CEREC system and creates an image of your tooth. Using this 3D image, he then designs your restoration directly in the CEREC system, using its proprietary CAD/CAM design software. Because this can be done chairside, Dr. Wiitala can then share what the restoration will look like with you on the CEREC monitor.
Now we’re ready to create the filling. The data from the design is sent directly to the CEREC milling station in our offices. The precise automated machinery then takes a block of solid dental ceramic and begins to carve your filling out of it. The precision is amazing.
When your porcelain filling is complete, Dr. Wiitala checks the color match and fit. Then he cements the filling directly to your tooth. This creates a durable, precise, virtually invisible restoration in less than one hour. You can now use your tooth normally.
Porcelain Fillings Before & After Images
Does getting a porcelain filling hurt?
Patients are fully numbed with a local anesthetic prior to the removal of any decay and placing the filling. You don’t feel a thing. There is little to no pain or soreness afterward, as well.
How long do porcelain white fillings last?
Along with the beauty of these fillings, Dr. Wiitala also loves their durability. As mentioned above, composite resin fillings can last from five to seven years. Studies have proven the contrasting durability of porcelain fillings.
- At 15 years, the success rate of porcelain fillings is 93 percent.
- Although there isn’t a good deal of data on longevity (due to their relatively recent addition for fillings), another study looked at the survival of porcelain fillings at 27 years. It found a survival rate of 88 percent at 27 years!
How do I maintain and care for my porcelain fillings?
You don’t need to use any special maintenance for porcelain fillings. Just normal twice-daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste and daily flossing. To get the best durability, it’s a good idea to not chew ice or the tips of pens. And you shouldn’t ever use your teeth to open the packaging.
“We have gone to Dr. Wiitala for many years and have never been disappointed. Dr. Wiitala is thorough, gentle when doing dental work, and a very pleasant person. His hygienists are friendly and do a great job. The office is always clean and patient stations are separate from each other which we like. We would highly recommend Dr. Wiitala if you’re looking for a dentist in Scottsdale.”
Schedule a Consultation
If you’re interested in learning more about porcelain white fillings please contact us for a consultation at (480)657-6981 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.