What Are the Pros and Cons of White vs Silver Fillings?

Even if you are meticulous about your oral hygiene habits, you may still experience a cavity. Luckily, treating cavities is just one phone call away. Dentists fill cavities and other small holes in teeth with fillings in order to strengthen the tooth. Decayed portions of the tooth are removed and replaced with a filling material, which serves to repair the damaged tooth and aid in preventing further decay.

However, not all fillings are created equally! There are two main filling materials that dentists use and each of them has advantages and disadvantages.

White Fillings

White fillings have several things working in their favor. One of the most obvious pros of white fillings is their aesthetic value. They are made to blend in as seamlessly as possible with the natural color of your teeth. You’ll know you have a filling, but nobody else will have a clue. White fillings are also very effective at protecting the tooth from additional decay when performed with the correct materials, as they bond to the tooth.

Perhaps one of the most appealing things about white fillings is that they can be placed with a minimum of drilling.  Foutz Family Dentistry utilizes the WaterlaseTM method, which uses a dental laser and reduces the need for drills and numbing shots. As a part of this process, the tooth is also sterilized to prevent future decay.

There are a few drawbacks to white fillings. Some may not be as strong as silver (amalgam) fillings. They also tend to come at a higher price point. White fillings placed with more traditional methods may also allow cavities to reform beneath the filling.  Use of proper materials and techniques is of paramount importance.

Silver Fillings

Silver fillings, otherwise known as amalgam fillings, are made of a mixture of metals with up to 50% of the filling being composed of elemental mercury. They have a dark, silver appearance and are visible to you and to other people.

Amalgam fillings are strong, and they tend to last longer than other types of fillings as a result.  They are also less expensive than white fillings and have been widely and safely used in dentistry for many years. If you know someone who had a filling done more than a few years ago, it was probably a silver filling.\

One of the major drawbacks to silver fillings is that they can cause fracturing of the tooth from the inside. The amalgam (combination of silver and mercury among other metals) that makes up the filling material expands and contracts with heat and cold, which can cause fractures in your natural tooth structure over time. Prolonged exposure to amalgam fillings may also turn the surrounding tooth a dull, gray color.

Talk to Your Dentist

When it comes to tooth repair, ask your dentist about your options. There are benefits and drawbacks to both types of fillings. Your dentist will be able to best help you assess which filling material is right for you and your particular needs.

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What Can I Expect from My Teeth as I Age? How Can My Dentist Help Me?

Every aspect of your health changes as you get older, and what goes on in your mouth is no exception to that rule. It’s natural that your teeth begin to change after years and decades of eating, drinking, and life in general. The kind of dental care you need will evolve alongside them, although some things will remain standard throughout your whole life.

What Happens to Teeth with Age?
The rate of tooth decay triples once you are past the age of 65. There are many reasons for this, but one of the major culprits is that decades of untreated or under-treated conditions cause mounting damage. Periodontal disease, and all the unfortunate things it brings with it like gum recession and jaw deterioration, may have been brewing for years in an aging mouth. This is a common cause of tooth loss in later years.

A common condition in older adults is xerostomia, also known as dry mouth. This underproduction of saliva can have profound and rapid effects on the mouth. Xerostomia increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay and can cause difficulty eating and swallowing. It is frequently listed as a side effect of many medications, so it may not be possible to avoid. Luckily, it is possible to treat by drinking more water and finding other ways to prompt your mouth to create more saliva.

Rates of oral cancer also increase with age, becoming more common above the age of 45. Several things can further increase the risk of developing oral cancer, like smoking tobacco and HPV. As you get older, it’s important that you and your dentist monitor for signs of oral cancer.

Aging teeth may also appear less bright or more yellow than you’re used to. Stains build up over time from food, drinks, smoking, and other things. Teeth whitening is an option to combat that, but it’s important to discuss with your dentist what whitening methods may work for you. Some cause increased sensitivity to an already increasingly sensitive mouth.

What Can Your Dentist Do?
Routine dental care is important at any age, and it is particularly vital as you get older. Age comes with unique health concerns that will be best addressed by your dentist. Regular cleanings are still an important part of your overall dental health in order to combat concerns like gum disease and tooth decay. Getting older doesn’t have to mean giving up on your natural teeth, but they do require extra attention! If you do suffer from tooth loss, your dentist will be your biggest asset in your journey to replace your teeth.

Brushing and flossing at least twice a day is the cornerstone for healthy teeth throughout your life, but other needs may change as you get older. Make regular visits to your dentist to closely monitor the health of your teeth and mouth. It’s the biggest favor you can do for yourself!

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When Does My Dentist Need a 3D X-Ray?

Maybe your dentist has scheduled you for a 3D x-ray, now or in the future. You might be wondering what it’s used for or why. 3D x-rays (also known as miniature cat scans) are great diagnostic tools that can help dentists find out much more about your mouth than the typical dental x-ray. Keep reading to find out more!

What are 3D X-Rays?

As with most 3D imaging in medicine, 3D x-rays are used in dentistry because they provide much more detailed insights. Using a collection of photos or snapshots from your mouth, a machine that is capable of 3D imaging can put these images together to create a three-dimensional model of your mouth.

3D imaging gives dentists a much clearer understanding of your mouth, so they can better diagnose or make treatment plans for you based on your unique jaw and teeth. With the 3D composite, your dentist can zoom into one tiny area to get a very detailed look or zoom outward to understand the full picture of your mouth.

The Many Benefits of 3D X-Rays

Due to 3D x-rays providing much better and more holistic insight into someone’s dental health, they can be used to much greater effect with patients. There are multiple ways in which a 3D x-ray can be used in dentistry.

For one, if you have TMJ, a dentist may perform a 3D x-ray to better understand how your jaw and teeth fit together and create a treatment plan that is personalized just for you. If getting dental implants, 3D x-rays can help an oral surgeon understand where exactly the best place is to put the implants in your unique smile.

In the case of a root canal, performing a 3D x-ray can help your dentist better perform your procedure. Sometimes, orthodontists will use 3D x-rays to understand where your teeth currently sit and decide on where you want them to be adjusted.

In a broader sense, 3D x-rays provide a much better experience for the patient. While on a traditional 2D x-ray, the image can be blurry and hard to explain to an untrained eye, three-dimensional x-rays provide clear and crisp images that any patient will understand. These easy-to-understand x-rays open the line of communication between patient and provider, so you can work together to create a treatment plan.

Apart from being easier to understand from a patient’s perspective, 3D x-rays can also offer a much more detailed look into a patients mouth, therefore allowing for more targeted care. during a traditional x-ray, certain bites will be off, or images will come out blurry, and you may need multiple retakes.

Another great feature of the 3D x-ray is that the need for retakes is dramatically reduced. Since these x-rays are able to produce a panoramic view of your mouth with just one image, the need for retakes is uncommon, resulting in less time spent in the chair for the patient. In general, the process of a 3D x-ray is quicker than a traditional 2D x-ray and will be more comfortable for the patient.

In Conclusion

3D x-rays are an amazing advancement in dentistry. They are quick, efficient, detailed, and interesting. Patients will enjoy how easy they are to understand. Dental professionals benefit from the many insights they can gain in just one short 3D imaging of your mouth. 3D x-rays do not hurt or cause discomfort and are typically quicker than traditional dental x-rays. Due to their accuracy, 3D x-rays are much less likely to result in retakes needed. Keep smiling!

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Mini Implants vs. Regular Implants: How their Uses Differ

Mini dental implants and regular dental implants both serve the same purpose: they replace missing teeth. Though both mini and regular dental implants provide tooth replacements that can improve your dental health, they differ in some important ways.

What They Treat

Both mini and traditional implants serve the same purpose in the mouth. This purpose is to firmly hold in place a dental prosthesis. Use can be customized based on what the patient’s needs are for prosthetics. Single implants can replace one or two teeth in the mouth. Several implants are used for multiple teeth or to replace a bridge. If a full-mouth restoration is needed, four to six dental implants can be placed to replace an entire lower or upper set of teeth. This can be placed as a removable prosthesis, which can be taken out to eat and clean. Or implants can be placed permanently to more closely mimic natural teeth.

The above can be done with mini or regular implants. The main difference is that mini-implants are a newer invention and are much smaller. Due to that small size, mini-implants typically are less expensive per implant but may require more implants to accomplish the same purpose.

Size and Shape

It might go without saying that mini-implants are the smaller of the two options. A traditional implant post is around 3mm to 7mm  in diameter, and a mini-implant is much smaller at 1.8mm to 2.9 mm in diameter. Due to their size, mini-implants place much less stress on the jaw bone and require less healthy jaw bone for support. Mini-implants can be just as stable as the larger traditional implants and when used properly have just as much longevity as the larger implants. As for shape, regular implants feature two parts, an implant body placed in the bone and an abutment. A mini-implant is a one-piece fixture 

Qualifications

Based on your current tooth loss and jaw health, patients will qualify for different implants. For traditional implants, you need sufficient bone with the appropriate density, as well as significant space for the larger posts. These parameters help insure that they are successful. So, if you have experienced bone degeneration due to loss of teeth, you may need a bone graft to restore the health of your jaw before undergoing the traditional implant procedure.

Mini implants do not require as much bone width.. Patients with a receding jawbone or degeneration may be able to receive mini-implants without any preliminary procedures like the bone graft. Although for people who struggle with teeth grinding or clenching, mini-implants would need to be used with a removable prosthesis to protect against the forces generated by grinding and clenching. Continual grinding or clenching can weaken any implant system over time if protective measures such as night-guard therapies are not employed.

Procedure

For mini-implants, the procedure is typically done in one office visit without the need for sutures. Traditional implants require a two-step procedure. The first surgery involves your doctor creating a pilot hole for the posts to go in. The second surgery is minor and involves uncovering the post and attaching the abutment. Traditional dental implants can easily support crowns, bridges, and dentures due to their sturdy nature after an appropriate healing time to allow the bone to integrate with the implant.  Because in most cases mini implants are used with removable replacement teeth, they can be used for retention right after placement although care should be taken to not over stress them during the initial 6 week healing period 

Conclusion

In conclusion, both mini-implants and traditional implants offer the ability to get your smile back. Which way you decide to go just depends on your current jaw, bone and tooth health, as well as your adaptability and budget.

If you have thinning or narrowing bone loss in your jaw, mini-implants may be the best option. If you have issues with teeth grinding or clenching, appropriate protection measures must be employed to ensure longevity no matter which type of implant you receive.  Mini implants are great in that they require a minimally invasive procedure, but you may need more of them to receive desired results. Either way, opting for implants can save your jaw health and get you a sparkling smile in no time.

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Dental Experts: Fluoride Varnish Is a “Generational” Way to Prevent Tooth Decay

How would you like to cut your risk of cavities in half?

A 2015 study conducted by the University of Sydney Dental School found that preventative techniques such as applying fluoride varnish can reduce the need for fillings in adults by up to 50 percent.

Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral used to prevent tooth decay. It helps reverse early damage by rebuilding tooth enamel. Fluoride is so important to good oral health that it is on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines.

For cavity prevention treatment, fluoride works best when applied directly to the teeth by a professional. But because there are different kinds of fluoride treatments, how do you know which one is the right choice to protect your dental health?

Let’s compare fluoride foam and fluoride varnish, two common fluoride treatments.

 What Is Fluoride Foam?

Fluoride foam is a solution used during in-office dentist appointments and prescribed for at-home applications. It is an appropriate option for young children who have problems brushing their teeth properly or for adults with sensitive teeth and gums who find regular brushing painful.

A foam-filled tray is placed into the mouth and over the teeth. Over the next few minutes, the foam activates, and tiny bubbles continually expand and collapse over and between teeth, ensuring maximum coverage.

Fluoride foam reduces cavities by around 25% in adolescents and adults, and by approximately 40% in children.

What Is Fluoride Varnish?

Fluoride varnish is a topical fluoride treatment that the dentist applies directly to the teeth during an in-office visit. Thicker than foam, the solution quickly sets and adheres to the teeth.

Varnish is extremely effective at reducing cavities. One study concluded that fluoride varnish cuts the incidence of cavities by between 50% and 70% for all patient groups.

Head-to-Head: Fluoride Foam versus Fluoride Varnish

Besides the significant difference in effectiveness, fluoride varnish has several other advantages over fluoride foam:

  • Lowered risk of dental fluorosis – discoloration and damage to the teeth
  • Reduced likelihood of fluoride ingestion, making it a safer procedure for children under the age of 6
  • The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that infants and children should receive fluoride varnish treatments as soon as their teeth start coming in.
  • Because trays are unnecessary, the application of varnish does not trigger the gag reflex.
  • There is no post-treatment restriction on eating or drinking.
  • Varnish application is faster than foam treatment. It takes about as long as brushing your teeth.

An Ounce of Prevention Is a Pound of Cure

Prevention has always been a part of the world of dentistry. What we’re seeing is a generational shift.”

~ Dr. Richard Valachovic, DMD, MPH, President Emeritus, American Dental Education Association

Fluoride varnish has emerged as a painless and effective way to prevent cavities and reduce the need for drilling and fillings.

If you live in the Las Vegas area, your most trusted resource for premium dental care is Foutz Family Dentistry. Located conveniently in Henderson, Nevada, the Foutz family has been a respected name in family dentistry for four generations.

For more information about fluoride varnish or to book an appointment, contact Foutz Family Dentistry!

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Ezbond A. Foutz, D.D.S.
4 Generations of Dentists Spanning 3 Centuries
1st Generation:

Great Grandfather

Dr. Ezbond A. Foutz
Harold B. Foutz, D.D.S.
4 Generations of Dentists Spanning 3 Centuries
2nd Generation:

Grandfather

Dr. Harold B. Foutz
Lawrence C. Foutz, D.D.S.
4 Generations of Dentists Spanning 3 Centuries
3rd Generation:

Father

Dr. Lawrence C. Foutz
Barton H. Foutz, D.D.S.
4 Generations of Dentists Spanning 3 Centuries
4th Generation:

Family and Cosmetic Dentist

Dr. Barton H. Foutz