A filling replaces part of a tooth that has been lost because of decay or through accidental damage. You may hear the dentist talk about ‘composite’, ‘glass ionomer’ these are different types of tooth coloured filling material.
If you require a filling in your tooth, a cosmetic option would be to choose a white filling material that matches the shade of your surrounding natural teeth. You can also have any existing metallic fillings replaced with tooth-coloured or ‘white’ fillings. This will allow you to smile without a metallic glint in sight, giving your teeth a more natural appearance overall.
‘Silver’ fillings are made of dental amalgam - a mixture of mercury with other metals, including silver, tin and copper. Amalgam is soft at first, but quickly becomes hard once placed in the tooth.
An effective long-term solution to straightening your teeth and correcting your bite are ClearSmile aligners. This is a series of plastic appliances, called aligners, to gently reposition and align the teeth creating a beautiful new smile.
Teeth sometimes become darker if their roots have been damaged or diseased and the ‘nerve’ has ‘died’. Tooth colour can be very effectively lightened with Hydrogen Peroxide (bleach), used on either the outside or the inside of the tooth.
Tooth bleaching is safe as long as the bleach does not touch your gums and burn them. Dentists use a special jelly bleach. Tooth bleaching is not permanent and may need to be repeated from time to time. The treatment works on tooth enamel, but does not whiten any crowns or fillings you might have.
Acids in the mouth can dissolve away tooth surfaces and if acid is in the mouth too often, teeth cannot repair themselves and the hard tooth surface (the enamel) becomes thinner - this is called ‘erosion’.
Don’t have acidic food and / or drink too often during the day. Try to have them only at meal-times. And drink acidic drinks quickly - don’t sip them. And don’t swish them round your mouth.
Between meals you should only have ‘safe’ drinks, which are not sugary or acidic. Milk and water are ‘safe’ drinks. So are tea and coffee if you do not add sugar to them (you can use non-sugar sweeteners).
You should try to avoid snacking between meals. If you do snack, only have ‘safe’ snacks, which are not sugary or acidic. Fruits, vegetables and products such as sandwiches, toast, crumpets and pitta bread are all ‘safe’ snacks. You should try to avoid snacking between meals. Some fruits, especially citrus fruits, are acidic and are known to cause erosion if they are consumed in large quantities. This is not normally a problem for most people; however, you could discuss with your dentist or hygienist the safest way of enjoying these fruits.
Because acids temporarily soften the tooth surface, don’t brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking something acidic. This will allow time for your saliva to neutralise the acid.
You should brush your teeth twice a day, and always use a fluoride toothpaste.
Your dentist can identify erosion, pinpoint the causes and advise you how to prevent further damage.