Should You Get an Amalgam or Composite Filling?

It’s the sad truth: cavities happen. The National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research reports: “92% of adults 20 to 64 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth” and “26% of adults 20 to 64 have untreated decay.” Dr. Armstrong and our team will perform see you for biannual dental exams and cleanings to help you maintain your smile and teach you how to care for your teeth at home, but if you do get a cavity, we can help you restore your tooth. We offer both amalgam (made of a blend of metals) and composite (made from tooth-colored resin) fillings for decayed teeth. Both treatments offer distinct benefits and disadvantages. Take our quiz to find out if you should get an amalgam or composite filling to treat your caries.

Are you concerned about the appearance of your tooth?

Amalgam restorations have a shiny silver appearance, making them fairly noticeable within your mouth. If you opt for a composite filling, Dr. Armstrong will match it to the exact shade of your existing teeth so that it blends in for a realistic, cosmetic look.

How long do you want your filling to last?

The beauty of composite fillings does come at a price. While amalgam restorations often last for over 15 years, composite fillings may require replacement within five to ten years. Amalgam fillings offer a sturdier solution to decay. The durability of your restorations is especially important if you suffer from bruxism, since teeth grinding can wear down composite, further shortening its lifespan.

Is the decayed tooth visible when you smile?

Given the cosmetic benefits of composite, many patients prefer these restorations for their visible teeth, while they might opt for tougher amalgam fillings for the back of the mouth. Dental insurance carriers often reflect the same opinion—many will cover the cost of composite for the front eight teeth, but not the back molars.

Are you concerned about or sensitive to certain metals?

Some patients worry about the potential health effects of the mercury used in amalgam fillings. The Colgate Oral Care Center reports: “Millions of people have amalgam fillings. Concern has been raised over the mercury in amalgam. Many studies on the safety of amalgam fillings have been done. In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluated this research. It found no reason to limit the use of amalgam.” Research has indicated the safety of amalgam, but you may still want to avoid this material if you suffer from an allergy or intolerance to any of the metals used. For example, patients who are allergic to nickel should opt for composite over amalgam fillings.

Are you looking for a more affordable treatment option?

Amalgam fillings are typically less expensive than composite restorations, making them a more attractive option for patients on a budget.

Do you already have an amalgam filling?

Some patients who have amalgam fillings wish to replace them with composite. In these cases, Dr. Armstrong will make recommendations on an individual basis, depending on the nature of your concerns (cosmetic or medical), current condition of your restoration, and the state of your oral health.

We Can Help You Choose the Right Restoration For You

Dr. Armstrong and our team offer both amalgam and composite fillings to suit your unique needs and preferences. If you suffer from decay, contact our Houston-Westchase practice to find out more about fillings or schedule a consultation with Dr. Armstrong.

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How Crowns and Bridges Can Beautify Your Grin

Most people think that dental crowns and bridges are simply meant to repair teeth. These restorative treatments can help you eat, drink, speak, and smile more comfortably if your teeth become damaged by extensive decay, infection, or trauma. While these advanced prostheses serve an important purpose for patients with these medical conditions, crowns and bridges can also enhance the appearance of the teeth. Dr. Craig Armstrong and our Houston dental team often custom make and place durable, attractive porcelain restorations to beautify our patients’ smiles. In the following blog, we explain how crowns and bridges can be an important part of cosmetic treatment.

A Crowning Aesthetic Achievement

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap that covers the entire tooth, from its chewing surface to the gum line. Dental crowns are similar to porcelain veneers in that these restorations can address a wide variety of aesthetic concerns, including:

  • Staining
  • Discoloration
  • Mild to moderate crookedness
  • Gaps
  • Crowding
  • Chips
  • Cracks
  • Fractures
  • Misshapenness

Since they are larger prostheses, however, dental crowns provide more comprehensive tooth coverage than veneers, with the added bonus of protecting the tooth against future damage. To place a cosmetic crown, Dr. Armstrong will first assess your tooth and provide any necessary restorative treatment, such as filling cracks with bonding or performing root canal therapy to address an infection. Next, he will contour the tooth so it can hold a prosthesis, take an impression of it, and send this information to our partner lab, where skilled technicians will custom make it. During the two weeks it takes to create this cap, you will wear a temporary crown. Once your permanent restoration is ready, Dr. Armstrong will attach it to your tooth with strong bonding cement and ensure that it fits properly.

Beautiful Bridges

A dental bridge is a multiple-tooth prosthesis that consists of two dental crowns, placed over healthy teeth, with one or more artificial teeth “bridged” between them. We offer fixed porcelain bridges to fill the spaces left in your smile by missing or extracted teeth. Many patients prefer bridges because these prostheses can simultaneously restore their smiles and enhance the healthy teeth around the gaps. Dental bridges offer the same cosmetic benefits as crowns, but since they also replace missing teeth, they can also help you maintain a full facial appearance and stop surrounding teeth from shifting into a less ideal, unsightly position.

The process for getting a dental bridge is very similar to that of a crown. Dr. Armstrong will shape the two healthy anchor teeth so they can hold crowns, take impressions of them, and work with our partner lab to create a personalized prosthesis. As with a dental crown, you will wear a temporary bridge during the time it takes the lab to create your bridge.

Are These Treatments Right For You?

Many patients are interested in pursuing dental crowns or bridges for cosmetic purposes, but you must meet certain basic criteria to qualify for these treatments. You may be a good candidate for a dental crown or bridge if you:

  • Are in good oral health, free from extensive decay or gum disease. These conditions will need to be treated before Dr. Armstrong proceeds with cosmetic treatment.
  • Do not grind your teeth. Patients who suffer from bruxism may wear down their restorations, damaging them and interfering with their results.
  • Have adequate enamel on the teeth to be crowned. Dr. Armstrong will need to be able to shape these teeth without causing sensitivity or other oral health issues.
  • Have realistic expectations about the results of your treatment. Dr. Armstrong will describe your anticipated outcomes at your initial consultation.

Find Out More About Cosmetic Crowns and Bridges

Our strong, tooth-colored porcelain crowns and bridges can help you preserve and improve your smile. Contact us today to learn more about these treatments or discover if they may be appropriate for you.

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Dental Dangers of Boating

As the last days of summer simmer down, heading out to your local beach or lake can be a great way to get in some quality time with your friends and family. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, approximately 74 million Americans participate in boating each year. This activity takes many forms—some people jump on water skis for an adrenaline rush, others explore their competitive sides by racing canoes, and many simply relax for a sunset sail around the harbor. Boating is a great summer activity, but unfortunately, it can also put your smile at risk. At Dr. Craig Armstrong’s Houston dental practice, we’re committed to helping our patients have their fun while maintaining their pearly whites. In the following blog, we discuss the dental dangers of boating and describe how our team can help.

Beware of Slippery Surfaces

Whether you’re aboard a sailboat, kayaking, or speeding along in a jet ski, you’ll need to tread carefully on your vessel’s wet surfaces, especially when you get in and out of it. Slipping and falling could cause a whole host of injuries. Any impact to your facial region could cause dental damage. Excessive pressure or force on your teeth could cause them to chip, break, crack, or fracture. Severe cases of oral trauma could require an emergency dental appointment, during which Dr. Armstrong can clean your tooth, apply bonding material, and cap it with a dental crown if needed. However, even more minor damage can cause serious oral health problems down the line. Many people incur tiny fractures or chips without immediately realizing it. Left untreated, these openings in the tooth can increase your risk for decay and allow bacteria to penetrate its inner workings, which may require a filling or root canal therapy to remedy.

To lower your risk for dental injury while boating, you should:

  • Wipe down wet surfaces with towels if at all possible before boarding or leaving the vessel.
  • Wear appropriate, waterproof shoes with excellent grip.
  • Use lifejackets as needed, which can reduce your risks if you do fall into the water.
  •  Take boating safety courses before embarking so you understand which precautions to take.
  • Use a mouth guard, especially if you engage in higher impact boating sports such as kayaking, rowing, or jet skiing. Dr. Armstrong can help fit you for a custom made oral appliance to protect your teeth.

Pack Healthier Snacks

Many people enjoy cruising around their local bay, lake, or harbor with an on-boat picnic. Hungry boaters might also be tempted to grab snacks between rounds of jet skiing or canoe racing. No matter which type of water-based recreational activity you enjoy, maintaining a healthy diet is a must. To keep your teeth smooth, clean, and cavity-free, try to avoid sugary, starchy, or acidic snacks while munching on fresh fruits and vegetables instead.

Drink Plenty of Water

In the well-known nautical poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” a sailor utters the famous line: “water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” This sentiment rings true when it comes to boating. NRS explains: “Dehydration, or excessive loss of bodily fluids, is a common problem in a number of athletic endeavors, and it’s often a problem that boaters experience.” NRS goes on to explain that boaters are particularly prone to dehydration because:

  • “Kayaking, rafting, SUP, canoeing, and other watersports can be quite strenuous,” leading you to sweat out your reserves.
  • Bringing water bottles or jugs on small boats may not be particularly feasible, nor is it easy to chug the H20 you need while attempting to paddle or steer.
  • Bathrooms don’t tend to be plentiful out on the water, so “you may find yourself cutting back on drinking so you don’t have to pee.”

Your hydration affects every aspect of your wellbeing, but it is especially key to your dental health. Your saliva acts as a natural mouthwash—in addition to rinsing away debris, it contains compounds that actively fight harmful bacteria. Without enough water, your body can’t produce the spit you need to maintain a beautiful smile. To keep your teeth healthy while out on the water, we recommend replenishing your fluids between activities, bringing small portable flasks aboard with you, and using facilities wherever they are available.

We Can Help You Boat and Beam Better

If you take the right steps, you don’t have to sacrifice your smile to sail. Contact our practice in Westchase today to learn more tips or schedule an appointment.

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