Mercury-free Dentistry is Our Preference
Our office has not offered silver amalgam as a restorative option since 1999. There is much controversy over the use of mercury-containing filling material (amalgam). Mercury is a known environmental and biologic toxin. It must be treated as a hazardous material both before it goes in the mouth and after it is removed from the mouth. Although the American Dental Association maintains that mercury amalgam fillings are “safe and acceptable,” many scientific studies have cast doubt on this position. It is our suggestion that all amalgam fillings are removed with a rubber dam in place to minimize the amount of exposure to debris as the restorations are being removed.
Click below to read newspaper columns written by Dr. St. Clair on dental amalgam/mercury and alternatives.
Dental Amalgam #1 Dental Amalgam #2 Dental Amalgam #3 Dental Amalgam #4 Dental Amalgam #5 Dental Amalgam #6
- Cast Gold: strongest, most long-lasting material available. Life span is the longest of any dental material available today (15-20+ years). It is what Dr. St. Clair has in his own mouth.
- Porcelain/Gold: Used where strength and appearance are equally important. These restorations are limited to full crowns “caps” and have a life span of approximately 10-20 years.
- Bonded Porcelain: Used for veneer and crowns in the front of the mouth and for inlays and onlays in the back of the mouth when the utmost in cosmetic appearance is a requirement. Due to the brittleness and wear characteristics of this material, care must be used in the selection of this mode of treatment. Life span for these materials have a wide range depending on where they are used in the mouth. (8-10+ years).
- Composite Resin: “White Fillings” are made of a plastic putty-like material that is placed in the mouth and hardened with a high-intensity light. While it is attractive due to its color match, it is softer than natural tooth structure and tends to wear and breakdown faster than the other materials described. It is a good choice for smaller restorations. The average life-span is much less than the other materials described (5-10 years).
* The life-span averages above are based on scientific data and the history of the dental material. There are many factors that influence the life-span of a restoration.
Our treatment recommendations are occlusal based. This means that every patient is evaluated to make sure the joints, muscles, and teeth are working together to ensure the longest lasting dentistry.
Our “remake” policy on laboratory processed restorations is based on the fact that dental insurance companies consider these restorations full-term at five years. Therefore, each year is worth 20 percent. In the unlikely event that a laboratory fabricated restoration needs replacement within the first five years from placement, the patient’s financial responsibility will be pro-rated from the time it was done. For example, if a crown was done 3 years ago and needs to be replaced because of recurrent decay, the patient would be responsible for 60% of the current fee for the crown to be re-done. From 1996-2009, less than 2% of the lab-processed restorations done in our practice have needed replacement. Again, there are many factors that determine how long a restoration will last.