Fillings are probably one of the most common dental procedures that patients require. No dental filling will last forever, so once a tooth has suffered decay and needed to be filled, the tooth is condemned to maintenance for the rest of its life.
For some time, amalgam (silver fillings) was the material used to fill back teeth. This material, although very long lasting, had a number of health disadvantages, and so has largely been phased out of use in dentistry.
Regular white fillings, or composite resin fillings, are aesthetically more pleasing than amalgam fillings, but the material is not very strong. For large dental fillings, especially in back teeth, its lifespan is limited to approximately five to seven years. Clinicians who offer this as their only restorative material will recommend further treatment for the filled tooth, in the form of a crown, knowing that the composite material will not be strong enough to last long-term.
At Smile Solutions we offer an alternative, known as a Cerec filling, to the “regular” white composite filling material. A Cerec is a porcelain filling, so although it is white (like a composite resin filling) it is much stronger and more durable, lasting at least 15 to 20 years and possibly a lot longer if the patient takes good care of their mouth. Because this is such a strong and stable form of filling, the clinician can treat teeth more conservatively – that is, not requiring the placement of a crown, which inevitably requires removal of further sound tooth structure. Because a Cerec filling will last so well, the patient spends less time in the dental chair long-term, as regular replacement is not required. It also can decrease the chance of needing root canal treatment in the future, as the tooth does not need ongoing maintenance.
Cerec fillings are made using CAD-CAM technology (computer aided design, computer aided milling). Once all old filling and any decay have been removed from the tooth, a series of 3D scans are taken of the tooth and surrounding teeth. This information is sent to a computer that we have chair-side at Smile Solutions, and the clinician can design the new filling, then have it milled, all in the one visit. The Cerec filling is finally tried-in and cemented, taking about one to one and a half hours all up.
So having a Cerec filling is a one-visit appointment, and the result is a practically “new tooth” – one that looks fantastic and most importantly is a durable and strong long-term solution.