Tips for Relieving Dry Mouth, from Our Apex Family Dentist

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Occasionally, a patient will visit our office expecting to have no dental cavities, and is very surprised to learn that they have one. Often, this patient is middle-aged or older, brushes and flosses every day, and has no prior history of tooth decay. When this happens, dentists immediately begin to suspect dry mouth caused by new medications or an undiagnosed condition. Dry mouth causes a decrease in saliva production, which is crucial for regulating oral bacteria and keeping the teeth healthy. Below is more information about the causes of dry mouth, and some treatments that can help.

Common Causes of Dry Mouth

Many medications can cause dry mouth as a side effect. Common dry-mouth inducing medications include muscle relaxants; pain medications; antidepressants; blood pressure and heart rhythm medications; Parkinson’s and Alzheimers disease medications; antihistamines; and decongestants. Recreational drug use, chemotherapy, nerve damage due to injury or surgery, and poor nutrition can also cause dry mouth. Note that this list is far from comprehensive; to learn whether a medication, behavior or condition may be causing your dry mouth, consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

Treatments for Dry Mouth

Regardless of the cause of your dry mouth, it’s important to do something about it, as lack of saliva can lead to cavities, gingivitis (gum disease), and halitosis (bad breath). Below are some tips on managing dry mouth from our Apex dentist.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is important for many aspects of your health in general, but for those suffering from dry mouth, it is even more important. Strive to drink at least 8-12 eight ounce glasses of water a day, unless your doctor advises against it. Taking small sips throughout the day will benefit you more than consuming a large amount in one sitting, as it helps to “wash” your teeth all day long.

Chew Sugarless Gum

Chewing sugarless gum can help to stimulate saliva production, providing your salivary glands are still operational, and not permanently damaged by injury or chemotherapy. The best sugar substitute, from a dentist’s perspective, is xylitol, a plant-derived sweetener that actively kills harmful tooth bacteria. Sucking on sugar-free lollipops can also help boost saliva production.

Avoid Drugs, Alcohol & Citrus 

Alcohol, caffeine, and citric acid can all dry out the mouth and inhibit saliva production. If you use an alcoholic mouthwash, you might want to try switching to a saltwater rinse instead. On the subject of indulgences, tobacco and marijuana can also worsen dry mouth, so if you use these, try to decrease or eliminate your use. Note that the nicotine in electronic cigarettes also contributes to dry mouth.

Add Moisture to Your Environment

Moistening dry foods with broth, sauces, milk or melted butter can make it easier to chew and swallow; you could also simply try adding more non-citric fruit and vegetables to your diet. You can also use a humidifier to add moisture to the ambient air around you, especially while you sleep.

Suffering from Dry Mouth? Talk to an Apex Dentist Today  

As oral healthcare specialists, dentists are able to assess potential causes of dry mouth, and prescribe or recommend products that can treat it. Many moisturizing gels, lozenges, and mouthwashes designed specifically to treat dry mouth are available over the counter; if these prove to be ineffective, your dentist can prescribe medications that stimulate the saliva glands. To reach a dentist in Apex NC, please click here.

What Forensic Investigators Can Learn From Teeth! | Apex Dentist

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If you watch a lot of crime shows like CSI: Miami, you may already know that teeth are often the only body parts that can survive severe types of destruction, like burning. Because of this, forensic scientists often have only teeth to work with when it comes to identifying a victim of a crime or natural/manmade disaster. In today’s post, our Apex dentist explains some of the things forensics investigators (and anthropologists!) can determine by examining dental fragments.

Age at the Time of Death

Teeth can help indicate how old an unknown victim was when he or she died. This is especially easy to do when the victim is a child or adolescent, since baby teeth erupt on a generally universal schedule. The first baby teeth start to emerge during the first two years of life; the first two permanent incisors and the first permanent molar emerge between 6 and 8 years of age; and the majority of the remaining permanent teeth erupt between the ages of 10 and 12 years of age. Wisdom teeth tend to erupt around 18 years of age.

Using dentition to age adult victims is a bit more challenging. Once the wisdom teeth have erupted, age can only be estimated by only morphological changes within the teeth. These changes include tooth root translucency, which increases with age; dental wear on the teeth; and the ratio of amino acids in the teeth (D-aspartic acids convert to L-aspartic acids with age).

Racial Determination

There are very slight differences in the skull structure of different races, which can help assist forensic investigators in identifying victims. People of Asian or Native American descent often have incisors which are shovel-shaped, with ridges on the rear surface of the tooth. People of Caucasian descent tend to have pointier incisors, and smaller teeth overall, often with significant crowding and impacted third molars. Those of African descent rarely have crowding, and the upper teeth often project outwards due to the angled shape of the maxilla. However, these differences are becoming less prevalent, and therefore less useful in identification, as our species becomes less geographically isolated.

Lifestyle & Diet

Teeth hold many clues about an individual’s health issues, even issues that did not originate in the mouth. Tooth loss and erosion of the tooth enamel can be a sign of an eating disorder, or a chronic condition like osteoporosis. Heart disease, skin conditions, blood conditions, and kidney disease can all be identified by examining the teeth. The wear on teeth can also show evidence of what the individual ate and chewed, a detail that is more useful to historic and prehistoric anthropologists.

Individual Dental Characteristics

Forensic dentists can often match victims with specific dental characteristics, like cavity fillings, crown or implant restorations, and orthodontic treatments. If the teeth are damaged by fire, the enamel is often burned off, but post-mortem root canals can still provide clues.

Providing Understanding and Closure

In mass casualty disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, or plane crashes, forensic dentists are enlisted to view the most badly damaged or decomposed remains. Dentists are often be the only ones able to identify the dead, giving them back their names and allowing their families much-needed closure. That’s why, even though it’s unfortunate that these types of situations occur, we should be very grateful for this incredible specialization of dentistry.

Hansen Dentistry is a dentist office in Apex, NC, serving residents of Apex, Cary, and Morrisville. To schedule an appointment with our office, please click here.

Tips on Creating a Plastic-Free Oral Care Routine, from Our Apex NC Dentist

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Plastic. It’s everywhere, in almost everything. It’s certainly in your bathroom, used to make oral care items like toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste tubes. All of these items are essential for having a clean, healthy smile, and yet all of them, unfortunately, are non-recyclable. 

The good news is that you don’t have to be part of the problem. More and more people are joining the zero-waste moving, striving to only use items that are biodegradable, compostable, and plastic-free. Below are some simple swaps you can make to ensure you have healthy teeth and a healthy planet. 

Bamboo Toothbrushes 

Each year, over one billion toothbrushes are thrown away in the US alone. That’s 50 million pounds of non-recyclable plastic waste, or enough toothbrushes to wrap around the world four times. 

Luckily, many companies make bamboo toothbrushes, which can be tossed in a compost bin to decompose naturally. Since bamboo is a material which grows very quickly (many people consider it to be a weed), bamboo products are usually very inexpensive. The only drawback is the bristles: most bamboo toothbrushes use plastic bristles, which must be pulled out before you can compost the handle. If you want a fully-organic toothbrush, your best option is one that uses boar’s hair bristles. 

Silk Dental Floss

Most commercial dental floss is made of nylon, Teflon, or some other synthetic petroleum compound. One great, organic material that can take the place of dental floss is silk, which is spun from silkworms. You might rummage through your local secondhand store to find a 100% silk clothing article, and repurpose the threads for floss. You can also purchase silk thread from art supply stores, but these will usually arrive in plastic packaging. The most convenient, waste-free method is to purchase thread from a brand like Dental Lace. This company packages its floss in recyclable glass vials with metal lids. When you’ve used up your floss, you can send the vial back to the company, and they’ll fill it with new product. 

DIY Toothpaste

There are countless recipes for toothpaste on the internet, the vast majority of them involving baking soda and/or bentonite clay. As an abrasive substance that scrubs away plaque, baking soda is an acceptable material. But if you decide to go this route, make sure to include xylitol in your mix. Despite the pharmaceutical-sounding name, xylitol is a natural sweetener extracted from birch wood and certain fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is unique among sweeteners because it acts as a sort of “mousetrap” for the bacteria that live on your teeth, effectively killing them. 

In addition, you can also purchase fluoride powder, which strengthens your tooth enamel. Both of these products will likely arrive in plastic packaging that may or may not be recyclable. However, just one bag of each is enough for a lifetime’s supply of homemade toothpaste—versus countless non-recyclable toothpaste tubes. 

Need a Dental Exam in Apex? Stop by Hansen Dentistry! 

We hope this blog post has helped you learn ways to live a greener, low-waste lifestyle while still taking care of your oral health. Doing so will help keep the actual teeth in your mouth free of artificial substances like composite resin, which, while a good replacement for your natural enamel, isn’t as great as the real thing! Having regular dental cleanings every 6 months is the best way to ensure long-term dental health, which means less waste and less expense on your part! To schedule a dental cleaning with our Apex dentist, click here.

The Worst Holiday Sweets For Your Teeth, According to Our Apex Dentist

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While most people are anticipating Santa’s midnight visit, we at Hansen Dentistry have our eye out for another silent visitor that comes this time of year: cavities. The influx in candy, cookies, chocolate, cake, and other holiday treats around this time boils down to one thing: more sugar, sugar, sugar! The bacteria in your mouth love sugar, and once they eat it, they turn it into acid. That acid then destroys your enamel, causing cavities and tooth decay. If you aren’t careful, you might have to start the new year with a trip to our Apex dentist office! In order to help you avoid that fate (as much as we love seeing you), we’ve put together a few treats to cut back on this holiday.  

Candy Canes

It’s the one candy that is immediately associated with Christmas, so much so that it’s even used as a symbol for it. You will likely see plenty of candy canes in Christmas trees, stockings, and cups of hot chocolate this season. However, candy canes are 100% sugar, and as a hard candy, they even have the ability to crack or damage your teeth. That’s why, if you need that extra kick of peppermint, we urge you to stick to soft options, like Peppermint Patties or peppermint syrup in your coffee. If you just have to have a candy cane, suck it—don’t bite it!

Caramel & Gummy Candy

Caramel is famous for sticking to your teeth. Not only is this irritating, caramel’s staying power gives bacteria ample time to consume it and convert it into acid. (That’s why dentists recommend you consume sweets all in one sitting, rather than at multiple points throughout the day. For example, if you have a soda, drink it all at lunch, instead of sipping it all day long.) Caramel and sticky candies also run the risk of pulling out fillings our crowns—so if you can, stick to chewable sweets like cake, chocolate, and cookies.  

Sweet Popcorn 

Popcorn: the dentist’s most dreaded enemy. Well, maybe we’re being a bit dramatic—but it is true that a large percentage of cracked tooth incidents we see are caused by unpopped popcorn kernels. Then there’s the risk of those thin, sharp husks getting wedged in-between the teeth, which can cause an infection or even an abscess. Then when you combine popcorn with sugar (or worse, caramel—see above) we get the worst of both worlds: something sweet that can get lodged behind your teeth for days or weeks undetected! If you happen to eat sweet popcorn this holiday, be sure to check each handful carefully for unpopped kernels, and resist chewing them. 

Need a Dental Exam in Apex? Stop by Hansen Dentistry! 

Are you happy that this article wasn’t a petition to get rid of holiday candy altogether? Don’t worry. Our dentists, hygienists, and front desk staff are real people, with kids—we know that getting rid of candy on Christmas just reasonable! However, you can choose candy that has less risk, and enjoy it safely. And if you need a dental service in Apex, be sure to request an appointment with us today

“What are Those Things?”: Common Dental Tools Used by Our Apex Dentists

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“What is that?” That’s a question we hear at our Apex dentist office quite often. And it’s understandable—having a dangerous-looking implement inserted into your mouth can be pretty scary, especially for people who have a dental phobia. If you are nervous about going to the dentist, knowing beforehand what the tools are and what they do can help calm your anxiety. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common tools our Apex dentist uses. 

Mouth Mirror

Probably the most recognizable dental instrument, the mouth mirror isn’t just used to look at your teeth; it’s also often used to retract the patient’s cheeks to the dentist a better look.

Dental Explorer

Many patients fear the dental explorer, which resembles a hook with a pointy end. Although this device may look like has an evil purpose, it’s only used to tap around suspect areas of enamel. If the explorer “sticks” in a certain spot, your dentist or hygienist can tell that tooth decay is present. If it doesn’t, your enamel is strong and healthy.

Periodontal Probe

This instrument is a tiny rod with small markings on it, spaced one millimeter apart. Some patients have remarked that it looks a little bit like a mosquito leg. The periodontal probe is used to measure bone loss around the tooth (periodontitis). The dentist or hygienist carefully slides the probe down into the space between the tooth and the gum, and the deeper the instrument goes, the more bone loss is present. Generally, healthy teeth will measure around one to three millimeters. If a four-millimeter pocket is noted, it could be an indication of gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Anything higher than that suggests periodontitis.

Cotton Pliers

Cotton pliers are another rather wicked-looking implement whose purpose is quite benign. The cotton pliers are essentially just long-handled tweezers, bent at a small angle for greater accuracy and precision when placing, you guessed it, rolls of cotton. 

Spoon Excavator

A spoon excavator has a long handle and a flat, rounded end, shaped somewhat like a spoon. It is most commonly used to remove decay or debris, although it can also be used for many other tasks, such as shaping composite resin.

Saliva Ejector

You probably know the saliva ejector as the “spit sucker.” This little disposable tube uses suction to keep water, saliva, and other debris out of the back of the throat during a procedure.

Contact Our Apex Dentist Office Today! 

Whether you need a simple tooth cleaning or an important restorative procedure, Hansen Dentistry is here to help you every step of the way. Our Apex dentist, Dr. Hansen, and his amazing staff go above and beyond to help our patients feel relaxed and comfortable in the dentist’s chair. If you have any questions about a certain procedure or the tools we use, we will be more than happy to answer. To request an appointment with our office, click here to fill out our easy contact form

Our Apex Dentist Explains why Xylitol is Good for Teeth, Bad for Dogs

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Now that Halloween’s in the rear-view mirror, you might be motivated to give your body a break from all that sugar by switching to low-calorie sweeteners. If so, xylitol is a great option, because it’s natural, tasty, and deadly to the bacteria on your teeth. In fact, xylitol is one of the few things that can truly kill cavity-causing bacteria, which is why dentists highly recommend it. However, it’s important to be aware that xylitol is also very dangerous to dogs, for reasons we will explain below.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is found naturally in fruit, vegetable fibers, hardwood trees, corncobs, and certain other plant species. It was first used as a sweetener in Finland during World War II, when sucrose was unavailable. Xylitol has become very popular in the last few decades due to the fact that it’s just as sweet as sucrose, but has far fewer calories. Additionally, xylitol causes very little insulin release in humans, making it an excellent alternative for people with diabetes, prediabetes, obesity, or other metabolic problems. However, this is unfortunately not the case when it comes to dogs and other animals.

Why Does Xylitol Harm Dogs?

In people, rats, horses, and rhesus monkeys, xylitol causes little to no increase in insulin release or blood sugar levels. However, in species like dogs, cats, cows, goats, rabbits, and baboons, xylitol causes a large insulin release and drop in blood sugar. For dogs, the insulin release from is so massive that it causes the blood sugar to drop dangerously low, resulting in weakness, trembling, seizures, collapse, and even death. At very high dosages, xylitol can cause massive liver necrosis in dogs, in which large numbers of liver cells die abruptly, killing the animal.

Xylitol is just as harmful to cats, but there is less cause for concern when it comes to them. This is because cats typically ignore xylitol-heavy foods like gum, cookies, cake, and peanut butter.

Foods Which Contain Xylitol

While we highly encourage patients to chew sugar-free gum that contains xylitol, we also don’t want any harm to come to family pets. Make sure that you check the following products carefully for xylitol:

  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Chewing gum
  • Peanut butter
  • Sugar-free candy
  • Sugar free breath mints
  • Fruit drinks
  • Jellies and jams
  • Cereals
  • Baked goods
  • Sugar-free puddings and Jello
  • Over-the-counter vitamin supplements

Be aware, too, that not all product labels clearly state whether or not they contain xylitol. If a label states only, “artificially sweetened,” presume that it contains xylitol to err on the safe side. Always keep xylitol-containing products high out of reach, and try to induce vomiting immediately if you think your dog has ingested any.

Need a Dentist in Apex NC?

If you want to keep your teeth healthy and safe, head over to Hansen Dentistry. Our Apex dentists can’t wait to make your teeth strong and beautiful as possible! To request an appointment, click here.

Causes & Treatments for Bad Breath, From Our Apex Family Dentist

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Almost everyone experiences bad breath once in a while. But for some people, bad breath is a chronic problem. Known in the medical field as “halitosis,” bad breath can be exacerbated by numerous factors, like inadequate oral hygiene, lack of saliva, or smoking. If you’re desperate to get rid of your bad breath for good, here are some factors that might be causing it.

Bacteria & Periodontal Disease

All bad breath is caused by bacteria which live on the teeth and tongue. Therefore, your first step at controlling bad breath is practicing good oral hygiene: Brushing the teeth and tongue, using mouthwash, and flossing. Flossing is one key step that many people skip because it can be a bit tedious. However, flossing is crucial to having a clean mouth and fresh breath. Don’t believe us? The next time you floss, smell the string before you throw it away, and we’ll bet you see (or smell) what we mean.

Tobacco and Alcohol

“Smoker’s breath” is a well-known consequence of smoking. This is because the chemicals in tobacco, such as nicotine, remain in the mouth and lungs long after a cigarette has been extinguished. Tobacco smoke can also dry out the mouth, leading to a proliferation of bad-smelling bacteria. Alcohol, too, can dry out the mouth and allow bacteria to thrive.

Dry Mouth

If you brush and floss daily, and don’t smoke or drink, yet still suffer from halitosis, you may be suffering from dry mouth, a condition wherein the salivary glands cannot produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. Since human saliva is slightly acidic, it is able to control the bacteria that cause bad breath. A decrease in saliva, therefore, allows bacteria to thrive. To increase your salivary flow, try chewing sugar-free gum after eating, which encourages increased salivary flow, and drink plenty of water. You can also use over-the-counter moisturizing agents, such as a dry mouth spray, rinses, or dry mouth moisturizing gel.

Other Conditions

If all these other causes have been ruled out, another underlying condition is likely to blame. Tonsillitis, respiratory infections such as sinusitis or bronchitis, certain gastrointestinal diseases, and uncontrolled diabetes can all cause bad breath. If you suspect that something else is at play regarding your halitosis, visit a primary care physician just to be on the safe side. 

Step 1: See Your Apex NC Dentist

With all this said, the vast majority of bad breath cases are caused by poor oral health. If you haven’t been to a dentist for a while, your first step should be scheduling a professional cleaning. Once it has been confirmed that there is no plaque or tartar built up on your teeth, your dentist can help you identify other factors that may be causing your halitosis.

If you are suffering from dry mouth, and over-the-counter solutions aren’t yielding any improvement, you may want to schedule a visit with an oral medicine doctor specializing in mucosal diseases and salivary gland disorders.

Hansen Dentistry is an Apex family dentist office specializing in cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, preventative dentistry, and more. We provide Apex NC residents with Invisalign, same-day crowns, professional tooth whitening, and a wide range of other services. To schedule an appointment, click here.

How Many Bacteria Are in My Mouth? Ask Our Apex NC Dentist

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Our teeth might sometimes seem like rocks or seashells; things which are dead and nonliving. However, our mouths are actually a vibrant ecosystem, populated with living things that play a vital role in our health. Here are some interesting facts about the microscopic creatures that live behind your lips from your local Apex family dentist.

The Oral Microbiome

Scientists have a fancy name for your mouth’s ecosystem – they call it the “human oral microbiome.” A big part of this microbiome is bacteria. A single mouth can be home to more than 6 billion bacteria, an impressive number when you consider that the total human population of the earth is 7.3 billion.

Those billions of oral bacteria live in diverse communities, where they go about the same business as most other living creatures: working, feeding, breeding, and dying.  Most of theme are harmless, or helpful, microbes, which can support your overall health as well as oral wellness. If you’ve ever seen the word “probiotics”on a label, these are the types of microbes it was referring to. Other members of the 700 different strains of bacteria that potentially live in your mouth are neither helpful nor harmful – at least as far as we know.

Harmful Mouth Bacteria

Like most urban areas, your mouth has safe neighborhoods and scary ones. Some of the microbiome communities are comprised of pathogenic bacteria that cause tooth decay, gum inflammation, and tooth loss. The main culprit of these oral diseases is Streptococcus mutans, which feeds on sugar and starchy carbs, and convert it into acids that erode your tooth enamel. Porphyromonas gingivalis isn’t a regular resident of your mouth, but shows up when gums are diseased (Periodontitis). Left to run amok, it will destroy gum tissue and the alveolar bone that supports your teeth.

Keeping your mouth bacteria-free

Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible to get rid of all your mouth’s bacteria—and you shouldn’t want to, anyway! However, you can help keep your tooth enamel strong by cutting down on sweets and carbohydrates. Both of these are Streptococcus mutans’ favorite food which, once ingested, are converted into acid that destroys teeth. And, of course, regular brushing and flossing will help keep your levels low.

Need a dentist office in Apex NC?

If you want to keep your teeth healthy and safe, head over to see Dr. Hansen and the rest of our team at Hansen Dentistry in Apex. Our Apex dentists and hygienists can’t wait to make your teeth strong and beautiful as possible! To schedule an appointment, click here.

Learn the Parts of the Teeth from Our Apex NC Family Dentist!

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While the mouth is just a small part of our overall anatomy, it’s responsible for some of the most important things we do—eating, drinking, speaking, and making facial expressions! In today’s blog, our family dentist in Apex explains the different parts of the teeth, including the enamel, dentin, pulp, and miscellaneous tissues.

Enamel

The outer covering of the tooth, enamel is the strongest, hardest, and most highly-mineralized substance in your body. Enamel is also the most visible part of teeth, a semi-translucent material that ranges in color from light yellow to grayish-white. Enamel does not contain any living cells, and cannot regenerate itself, so it’s critical to preserve it. Proper oral hygiene – brushing, flossing, regular professional checkups and cleanings – help to keep your enamel from eroding away.

Dentin

Dentin is a layer of living cells that lies underneath the tooth enamel. Dentin is also what primarily gives your teeth their color. This is why people who scour their teeth with harsh, abrasive substances like charcoal or baking soda often wind up with yellower teeth than they started out with. Since the white enamel has been worn away, the yellow dentin shows through. That’s why it’s best to stick to safe, professional whitening treatments!

Dental Pulp

Pulp is the living center of your teeth, filled with blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves. Pulp’s role is to keeps your teeth nourished and moist. Without pulp, our teeth would resemble dried, bleached bones, just like the turkey wishbone that you leave out for a few days after Thanksgiving.

Other Parts of the Tooth and Jaw

Teeth are held in place by the cementum, a layer of connective tissue that grips teeth to the gums and jawbone, and the Periodontal ligament, which helps hold the teeth to the jaw. You also (hopefully!) have gums, upper and lower jaws, a tongue, salivary glands, a uvula (the dangly ball bit at the back of your mouth), and a frenulum linguae (the tissue under your tongue). All of these structures, except your teeth, are covered by a protective lining called the oral mucosa, similar to the mucous membranes inside your nose and inner ears.

The health of all these structures are directly related to the health of your teeth. Your mouth is a holistic system, and if one part of it is not well, other parts will also suffer.

Take Care of Your Mouth with our Apex NC Dentists!

Thankfully, teeth can typically be kept healthy and happy with basic oral hygiene and twice-yearly dentist appointments. Regular exams and professional teeth cleanings help your dentist screen you for oral cancer, tooth decay, and gum disease. If you’re searching for dentists in Apex or Cary, contact Hansen Dentistry today!

Learn About the Most Popular Filling Materials from our Apex Restorative Dentist

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When a tooth is damaged by decay and acid, your dentist will use a filling to restore it to its normal shape and function. If you are going to get a filling in an upcoming dental appointment, or have already had one and are just curious about the procedure, here is everything you need to know about dental fillings from our Apex dentist office.

Popular Dental Filling Materials 

Fillings help close off spaces where bacteria can enter, and prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include:

  • Gold
  • Porcelain
  • Composite resin (for tooth-colored fillings)
  • Amalgam fillings (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).

No one type of filling is “best” for everyone. What’s best for you will depend on the extent of the decay; whether or not you are allergic to certain materials; where the cavity is located; and cost. Below is more information about each cavity filling material.

Gold Fillings

Historically the only filling material that was used, gold fillings are now made to order in dental labs. Gold inlays are well-tolerated by gum tissue, and may last for more than 20 years. For these reasons, many dentists consider gold to be the best filling material. However, it is often the most expensive choice, and is not the most resilient.

Porcelain Fillings

Porcelain fillings usually have a similar cost to gold. If you have ever heard the dental term “inlay” or “onlay”, it was referring to a porcelain filling. Porcelain restorations are a popular choice because they can be matched to the color of the tooth, resist staining, and are very durable. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth.

Composite Resin Fillings

Composite fillings are essentially a type of plastic. These can also be matched to the same color of your teeth, and are therefore another popular choice when the cavity is in a visible area. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings, as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea, or tobacco, and do not last as long as other types of fillings (generally from three to 10 years).

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings are often known as “silver fillings”, but a dental amalgam is actually a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, copper, and zinc. Mercury, which makes up about 50% of the compound, is used to bind the metals together. Generally, the amount of mercury in a filling is considered too small to be harmful, as studies have shown that the amount of mercury in a filling is less than the amount most people consume in the food they eat.

Amalgam fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations, and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as the front teeth.

What Happens When You get a Dental Filling?

During a checkup, your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth. If your dentist detects a cavity that needs to be filled, he or she will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled with one of the materials described above.

Schedule an Appointment with Hansen Dentistry

If you would like to have your teeth cleaned and inspected for cavities, stop on by Hansen Dentistry! Our friendly Apex dentist, Dr. Hansen, will help you achieve your perfect smile. To schedule an appointment, click here.