General Dentistry

General Dentistry
Lawrence, KS

Tooth Fillings

We are a mercury-free practice. However, many people still have silver/mercury fillings in their mouths from years past. These fillings are not particularly pleasing to the eye, and we know that by unavoidable design, silver/mercury fillings ultimately result in a weaker tooth structure. Tooth colored fillings are not only beautiful (or unnoticeable) but also add strength to weakened teeth. These restorations are esthetically pleasing and very strong thanks to new bonding techniques.

Disadvantages of Silver fillings:

Silver fillings have many drawbacks. The edges of the silver filling wear down, pull away from the tooth and become weak or break. This results in the tooth not being protected and allows bacteria to grow underneath the filling creating a cavity that we cannot see. With age, the metal of a silver filling expands, contracts, acting like a wedge pushing the remaining tooth apart. Silver fillings contain 50 percent mercury. They can corrode, leak and cause stains on your teeth and gums. Fortunately, silver fillings can safely be replaced with Tooth-Colored Restorations.

Advantages of Tooth-Colored Restorations

There are many advantages to tooth-colored restorations. The filling material is bonded to the tooth creating a tight, superior fit to the natural tooth. Tooth-colored fillings can be used when there is enough tooth structure left to support the filling. The tooth remains intact and stronger for a longer period of time. Since the resin used in tooth-colored fillings contain fluoride this can help prevent decay underneath the filling. But remember, fillings are not permanent restorations. They will wear out over time as you function and use them.

Replacing Silver Fillings with a Tooth Colored Restoration

You can have your silver fillings replaced with tooth-colored restorations. The size of your existing silver filling will dictate what kind of restoration we replace the filling with. If there is enough tooth structure left after removing the old filling and decay that might be present, we will place a tooth colored filling. Sometimes, there is not enough tooth left to create an environment where a new filling will last. In these situations we might recommend a porcelain restoration to restore the tooth. No matter which option you are a candidate for, your new restoration will be functional and beautiful. Your teeth are restored to a natural look and feel, they are stronger and the tooth is protected.


What are inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. These restorations are bonded to the tooth to protect the damaged area. An inlay, which is similar to a filling, is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay is a more substantial restoration, similar to the inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth. Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays. In recent years, however, porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its strength and esthetic qualities, which match the natural color of your teeth.

How are inlays and onlays applied?

Inlays and onlays require two appointments to complete the procedure. During the first visit, the filling being replaced or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. To ensure proper fit and bite, an impression of the tooth is made by the dentist, and sent to a lab for fabrication. You will wear a temporary restoration while the laboratory fabricates the restoration. This will keep you comfortable and protect the tooth until we can bond your new restoration. At the second appointment, the temporary is removed. We will make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.

Considerations for inlays and onlays

Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. As a result, they can last from 10 to 30 years. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.


All of your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth. Tooth loss doesn’t necessarily have to occur as you age, but if you do lose teeth they must be replaced to maintain proper function of your mouth. Fortunately, there are options for correcting tooth loss.

Dental Bridge Options

A bridge — a device used to replace missing teeth — attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges are either permanently attached (fixed bridges), or they can be removable (partial denture). If you’re missing one or more teeth, you may be aware of their importance to your appearance and dental health. Your teeth work together as a team. When a member of the team is missing, then the rest are handicapped. Fixed bridges are an option to restore your dental health when you are not a candidate for implants.

What exactly is a bridge or fixed partial denture?

A bridge (fixed partial denture) is a device which fills the gap where teeth are absent. Fixed bridges are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dental professional. Removable bridges, as the name implies, can be taken out and cleaned. Fixed bridges offer more stability than their removable counterparts. However, hygiene habits are incredibly important in keeping your bridge healthy.

Why do I need a bridge?

Oral functionality and appearance are important reasons for bridges. The loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to sink and your face to look older. Dental health is the most important reason for a bridge. Teeth were designed to touch each other. Unusual stresses are placed on the gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing, causing a number of potentially harmful disorders. Increased risk of gum disease has proven to be one of the worst side effects of missing teeth.

How is a bridge attached?

Normally it will take 2 appointments to complete your bridge. The first appointment we will shape teeth on either side of the gap allowing space for the fake tooth to rest and then we will take an impression. We will send all the data to our laboratory for fabrication. The bridge must be very precise to ensure the bite matches the opposing tooth. Fixed bridges are typically bonded to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth.

How do I take care of my bridge?

A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. Hygiene is the biggest factor that dictates how long you will keep your bridge. Flossing under the fake tooth every day will help in retaining the restoration. You can expect a bridge to last 10 – 15 years if cared for properly. If you wish to have a longer lasting restoration, please see our page on Implants. Implants can be a lifelong restoration is cared for properly.


How long does it take to get your new crown?

Restoring a tooth with a crown requires at least two visits to our office. Initially, we remove decay, shape the tooth, and place a temporary crown made of acrylic. You will return to our office 4 weeks later. At this visit we will remove the temporary crown, make sure the final crown fits well then bond it in place. Bonding is preferred over cementing because it makes the crown become a part of you, making it the strongest it can be.

Key Benefits of Crowns

  • Repairs badly damaged teeth which might not otherwise be savable
  • Offers support to misshapen teeth or badly broken teeth
  • Looks completely natural
  • Fixes bite problems
  • Supports a tooth after a root canal has been done
  • Straightens teeth when the patient does not desire orthodontics
  • Trauma
  • When the patients does not like the appearance of their teeth

What are the capabilities of crowns?

Crowns are a reliable solution for major dental problems including accidents, diseases or wear and tear and tooth decay that have been left untreated and your bite. Depending on where the crown is needed your crown will be either all porcelain or porcelain fused to gold. Crowns are a long lasting “fix” when damage has occurred, when teeth have broken away through excessive wear, or as the result of old fillings wearing out. Remember, fillings are like oil changes, you can only get so many miles out of them. With Crowns however, they are like a transmission overhaul, you can expect to get a lot of miles out of them. Basically, your decision should be based on how long you want the restorations we provide you to last.

Many people have unexplained pain when chewing. This is usually due to hairline cracks under old fillings or in the chewing part of the tooth. Placing crowns on these teeth typically take care of the pain and restores full dental function. When older fillings are placed on a front tooth this weakens the tooth. Front teeth are small in comparison to back teeth, so the ability to place fillings in them multiple times is unlikely. When they begin to wear out, it causes "appearance" problems due to staining or chipping making you not want to smile as often. Placing porcelain crowns on your front teeth can restore your bite to its original state and give you back the confidence you deserve when you smile.


What is a root canal?

A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed, well over 14 million every year. This simple treatment can save your natural teeth and prevent the need of implants or bridges. At the center of your tooth is pulp. Pulp is a collection of blood vessels that helps to build the surrounding tooth. Infection of the pulp can be caused by trauma to the tooth, deep decay, cracks and chips, or repeated dental procedures. Symptoms that indicate you might need a root canal are:

  • Hot and Cold Sensitivity that lingers after the temperature source is removed
  • Radiating pain through the jaw, ear and sinus area
  • Biting pressure sensitivity
  • Spontaneous pain – without having to do anything to the tooth
  • A fistula “pimple” on the gum next to a tooth
  • Swelling of the gum tissue or outer portion of the face

How is a root canal performed?

If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will most likely recommend non-surgical treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp. The pulp is removed from the tooth and replaced using a rubber-like material to add some strength. This therapy usually involves local anesthesia and may be completed in one or more visits depending on the severity of the infection. Success for this type of treatment occurs in about 90% of cases. If your tooth does not respond well to the root canal or the chance of success is unfavorable, you will be informed at the time of consultation or when a complication becomes evident during or after treatment.Most people only hear horror stories about root canals. That is due to the patient waiting too long to seek medical attention. In very rare cases it is possible to die from a growing infection in your mouth. If you suspect that you might need a root canal or are experiencing any of the above symptoms, call our office right away. If done in a timely manner, a root canal procedure does not involve pain. You can expect to be sore after the treatment, but a much different kind of sore then you felt before the root canal. You will be able to drive home after your treatment, and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine.

What happens after treatment?

After a root canal treatment, the tooth can become brittle since we have removed its source of nutrition. For this purpose a crown is regularly placed on the tooth to support it structurally from fracturing.

How much will it cost?

The cost associated with this procedure can vary depending on factors such as the severity of damage to the affected tooth and which tooth is affected. In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth.