Types of Dental Fillings and the Right One for You

dental fillings

Are you curious about what types of dental filling options you have, and what types there are? Lots of people can get confused by what sort of dental filling options they have. Thankfully, Dr. Chauvin, your favorite Lafayette Louisiana dentist is extremely experienced and can help you along this process by offering a great deal of options for your procedure.


Your dental options vary depending on your health, where and how the filling is placed, the amount of pressure the tooth will have to take while chewing and the type of materials that should be used for your individual needs. Most fillings are used to fill the hole that is left behind when a dentist takes out a cavity. Fillings can also be used to repair cracked or broken teeth, or give new shape to a tooth.

Types of Dental Fillings:

  1. Amalgam Fillings –  These metal fillings are typically made up of mercury and copper. Amalgam fillings are strong and long-lasting, but are aesthetically unpleasing. Advantages include: Strength, inexpensive, and can be completed in one visit.  Disadvantages include: Do not blend in, healthy parts of tooth may be removed to make room for filling, can tarnish over time, can crack in temperature changes.
  2. Composite Fillings – These tooth-colored fillings are made of a hard plastic material, making them very safe and strong. The main advantage is that they are made to match your teeth. However, the 5 year lifespan is very short compared to other filling options, so they may not be the first option for people on a budget in the long-term. 
  3. Porcelain Fillings – Also called inlays or onlays, porcelain fillings are custom created in a dental lab and then bonded to the tooth by the dentist. They can be matched to the color of the tooth, resist staining, and are about the same cost as gold fillings. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth, making the filling nearly undetectable.
  4. Glass ionomers –  These glass and acrylic fillings usually last less than five years, but they are often a good choice for children whose teeth are still changing. Also, they can release fluoride, which can help prevent tooth decay.

An Alternative to Dental Fillings: Dental Crowns and Dental Implants

For some patients of Dr. Chauvin, dental crowns may be necessary in the presence of severe tooth decay. Dental crowns are used to protect teeth that are weak from decay and in danger of breaking or cracking. Teeth that are already cracked can also be held together with a dental crown. When there isn’t enough tooth left after a filling has been placed (when the filling is too large), a dental crown can be used to protect and cover the tooth. A dental crown is a cap placed over a tooth to restore strength, shape, and size. Dental crowns may also be used to improve the appearance of the teeth, and once placed, fully encase the entire visible portion of the tooth above and below the gumline. 

If your tooth has suffered so much damage that it cannot be saved, the tooth will need to be extracted and replaced.  Dental implants often offer the most stable, durable, and natural looking tooth replacement option.

Learn More about Dental Fillings

Want to know more? Please contact your Lafayette La dentist Dr. Chauvin. He readily shares his knowledge and expertise with our patients. We would be happy to answer any questions or schedule an appointment for you.

It’s important that you take good care of your teeth by brushing twice a day and flossing regularly. And of course, visiting Dr. Chauvin twice a year for your regular check-up. Doing so will ensure that issues with tooth decay are caught and dealt with early and that your teeth remain as healthy as possible.

ancient dental tools

The History of Dentistry

Dentistry is not a new profession. In fact, it’s probably much older than you think it is. It wasn’t a Renaissance idea, or even a Roman idea. Dentistry can trace its roots all the way back to 5000 BC! There is a Sumerian text that says that dental decay is caused by “tooth worms”. Gross! Fortunately they were wrong.

Flash forward about 2400 years, to 2600 BC, to the death of the first dentist. An Egyptian scribe named Hesy-Re had the following inscribed on his tomb: “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.” This is the first recorded instance of a person identifying as a dentist. Also in Egypt, between 1700 and 1550 BC, a text was found that refers to toothache remedies and tooth disease. This document was called the Ebers Papyrus.

A thousand years later, two of the most famous philosophers ever documented, Hippocrates and Aristotle, wrote about dentistry. They got into great detail! Discussing how teeth erupt, how to remove teeth, how to treat gum disease and tooth decay, and how to stabilize damaged teeth and jaws with wire.

The next thousand years see three major dental developments:

  • 100 BC: A medical writer from Rome, named Celsus, wrote about oral hygiene, how to treat toothaches, jaw fractures, teething pain, and how to stabilize loose teeth.
  • 166-201 AD: Dental prosthetics, including fixed bridges and gold crowns, are developed and used by the Etruscans.
  • 700 AD: Silver paste, an amalgam used for fillings, is mentioned in a Chinese medical text.

ancient dental toolsThe Guild of Barbers is created in 1210 in France. These were not all the “shave and a haircut” barbers we know today. There were two groups that emerged. The traditional barber, or “lay barber”, who performed haircuts, but some of their duties also included teeth extraction and bleeding! The second group were called surgeons, and were trained to perform complex surgery. Could you imagine going to get a haircut and a tooth pulled all by the same person?

The Guild of Barbers ran into trouble in 1400. Royals in France decreed that lay barbers must cease all surgical procedures, except for extracting teeth, leeching, bleeding, and cupping.

Between 1500 and 1600, two books are published. They both contain information on oral hygiene, the drilling of teeth, how to perform fillings and tooth extractions, and how to treat tooth decay.

By the 1700s, dentistry had become a well known profession.  In 1723, Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon referred to as the Father of Modern Dentistry, published his influential book, The Surgeon Dentista Treatise on Teeth, defining a comprehensive system for oral hygiene and treatment of teeth.  He also presented the idea of dental fillings and the use of dental prosthesis, and identified that acids from sugar led to tooth decay.

In 1840, the first dental college (Baltimore College of Dental Surgery) opened.  In the United States, Alabama led the way by enacting the first dental practice act in 1841 to regulate dentistry in the U.S. Nearly 20 years later, the American Dental Association (ADA) was formed. The first university-affiliated dental institution, the Harvard University Dental School, was founded in 1867.

By 1873, Colgate had mass produced the first toothpaste, and mass-produced toothbrushes followed a few years later.

What may come as a surprise is that the first African American to earn a dental degree dates all the way back to 1869, and the first female dental assistant, Malvina Cueria,  was employed in New Orleans in 1885. What might be most surprising of all is that most Americans did not adopt good brushing habits until after World War II, when soldiers stationed abroad brought the concept of good oral health back to the United States!

If you want to learn more about the history of dentistry, click here. If you have questions about your dental care, give us a call! We’ll be happy to answer your questions!

How Teeth Whitening Works

Teeth whitening is the most common cosmetic procedure that dentists perform.

That’s because everyone wants a bright, white, attention-grabbing smile.  An estimated 10 million Americans will spend over 1.7 billion dollars this year alone on whitening services and products.  Before we can get into the details of how teeth whitening works it’s important to understand why you might need this in the first place.  Stains.


How teeth get discolored

Your teeth are made up of an inner layer called dentin and an outer layer enamel.  Enamel is hard and shiny but is easily stained.   Food, and other substances build up on your teeth in the form of a tiny particle layer call a “pellicle film.”   Brushing your teeth can take some of it off  and whitening toothpastes are designed to work even harder on enamel.  Beyond good oral hygiene a dentist can clean away this film, through teeth cleanings.

The pellicle layer gradually gives way to discoloration in the enamel layer, discoloring it slightly. Over the years, that adds up, and that’s why many adults eventually seek out teeth whitening treatments.

Common causes for stains

  • Foods/Drinks: Coffee, tea, soda, wines and certain foods ( potatoes, cherries, blueberries)
  • Chewing tobacco and smoking
  • Poor Dental Hygiene
  • Medicine: Antihistamines, antidepressants and high blood pressure pills.
  • Dental Work: silver amalgam restorations can produce a grayish-black color on the teeth.
  • Age: As you get older, the outer layer of enamel on your teeth wears away, revealing the dentin’s natural, yellow color.
  • Genetics: Some people have whiter, healthier teeth
  • Location: Excessive fluoride from environmental sources, such as high fluoride levels in drinking water.
  • Medical Treatments: Certain treatments can adversely affect the color of enamel and dentin layers. Chemotherapy and head and neck radiation are two examples.


So how does teeth whitening work?


Over the counter teeth whiteners use bleaching chemicals to get down into the tooth enamel and set off a chemical reaction that breaks apart the staining compounds.  Most tooth whiteners use one of two chemical agents: carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide (the same stuff that will bleach your hair). When used in the mouth, carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea, with hydrogen peroxide being the active whitening ingredient.  Its also important to point out that you should have your teeth professionally cleaned and checked before going with this method.

In-office treatments will use more powerful controlled concentration of the peroxide, and a special high-intensity light that accelerates the bleaching, each being tailored to a particular patient.  Before the tooth whitening treatment, the dentist will clean the teeth, fill cavities, and make sure your gums are healthy.  They then place a hydrogen peroxide paste on the teeth for several minutes, rinses it off, and can apply it several more times. The procedure can achieve about four to six shades of whitening after only one 40-minute treatment.

In-home treatments are another option. The dentist will take a mold of your mouth and make custom mouth trays.  The patient will put a thin layer of whitening gel into the tray and wear it for about 2 hours a day or while sleeping. Most whitening occurs in one to two weeks.

Looking for professional teeth whitening in Lafayette, La?  Give us a call! 


Q and A with Dr. Chauvin

14944-org-RSKnowing the basics of oral hygiene can keep you healthy, and save you money in the long run. It’s very important to take good care of your teeth. Need a refresher course? Take our quiz!

How often should I brush my teeth?

The correct answer is at least twice a day, according to the American Dental Association. It is important not to brush too often, as you can damage your teeth and gums. And if you have eaten an acidic food or drink, wait 30 minutes before brushing, as the combination of the acid and the brushing can damage your enamel.

How long should I brush my teeth?

Most dentists agree that two minutes is the recommended length of time. The important thing to ensure is that all surfaces are clean. Make sure that you clean all tooth surfaces, including hard to reach areas. Use short, up and down motions, and hold your brush at a 45 degree angle. Broad side to side strokes can scrape your gumline.

How often should I floss?

It is very important to floss daily, as bacteria and plaque will accumulate in-between your teeth every time you eat. These surfaces are impossible to reach with a toothbrush, and if left unattended, can be a hotbed for cavities.

Should I use mouthwash?

While mouthwash can be helpful, it’s generally not required. As long as you’re brushing and flossing properly, you’re doing what you should be for healthy teeth. If your goal is to have fresher breath, remember that you should be brushing your tongue as well as your teeth. There is an area at the back of your tongue where most of the “bad breath bacteria” live, and brushing here is more effective at removing them than mouthwash. Some mouthwashes have fluoride added, and some are recommended by the ADA. The best thing to do in this case is ask your dentist what they prefer you use.

How do I know if I have a cavity?

Cavities are difficult to detect at first, as they haven’t really done much damage yet. If left untreated, you can experience:

  • Tooth pain
  • Sensitivity to cold, heat, or sweets
  • Discoloration of the tooth (darkened or black spots)
  • Visible damage to the tooth (a hole or crack)

The best way to prevent a cavity is to make sure you’re brushing and flossing properly.

What kind of foods can I eat to improve my oral hygiene?

There are some foods that will improve your mouth health. They may surprise you, as dark chocolate and strawberries make the list! You can read more about that here. ((NOTE: Double check this link – it may have been changed for SEO purposes.))

Dental Bridge or Implant?

Dental bridges and implants are some of the more common options for most people who are looking for an effective way to restoring their pearly white smile without the need to use dentures. This is an excellent choice for you to restore your teeth, and even eating and talking will feel just like normal.

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are considered the easiest solution to bridge the gap that is created by missing one or more teeth. It actually contains a bridge that connects the adjacent teeth to provide a natural look. The connecting tooth is called as false tooth or pontic that can be made of alloys, porcelain or gold. Dental bridges can be supported by either the natural teeth or a dental implant. This is an easy and inexpensive procedure to select if you need to restore your smile right away. Setting up dental bridges is  easy and will not require an enormous amount of time.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are another option to restore your smile. This is a more in-depth dental procedure wherein a titanium post is implanted within the jawbone. As the jawbone grows, it effectively fuses with the titanium post, which makes this a permanent option. The temporary crown will be then attached to the post as it fuses and heals. The healing from this procedure takes anywhere from 6 weeks to 9 months, all depending on the implant’s location. Dental implants can be used also to secure dentures or bridges.


Dental implants can be less noticeable which will offer a more natural look. The dental implants also give you the chance to chew food better as compared to bridges wherein the artificial tooth may slip. The bridges also require vigorous care to effectively place them. If one of the teeth wherein the attached bridge is affected, it can require replacement of the entire bridge to correct the problem. The only issue of dental implants is they are very expensive.

Time Frame

The life span of dental bridge can reach up to 10 or more years, which will depend on the proper care and hygiene. Dental implants are permanent, but for bridges and crowns that are attached to this will require for replacement as time goes by. In general, proper oral care is very imperative to have long-lasting benefits of these dental procedures.

If you are planning to get either of these dental procedures, it is very important for you to do your research first to determine which the best one is. You have to consider the pros and cons of each of these options. If you are on a budget then dental bridge is the best choice, but if you want to have a more permanent solution then a dental implant is the best choice.

In conclusion, dental bridges or dental implants are both an effective way to help to reinstate your smile. You just have to consider several aspects that can influence your decision on the best type of dental procedure that is applicable to your needs.

Avoid Halloween Cavities with Sugar Free Gum

October is approaching, and with it comes a slew of Halloween candies! Trick-or-treating is a time-honored tradition and is enjoyed by children and adults alike. In Lafayette, the official trick-or-treat hours are from 6 to 8 pm on October 31st.

All of that candy can have negative side effects on your dental health. Lafayette, Louisiana Dentist Dr. Timothy Chauvin can tell you, candy consumed in large amounts can contribute to cavities. Luckily, research has found a candy that will not contribute to cavities. In fact, this candy can prevent cavities!

Dr. Chauvin states that Xylitol, a chemical used as a sugar substitute in sugar-free gums and candies, can inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth. The chemical is incredibly effective at preventing the bacteria that causes cavities, Streptococcus mutans.  Best consumed after a meal or drink, the candy will stimulate saliva production, dislodge food particles still in the mouth, neutralize any remaining acids, and remineralize teeth. While all of that is going on, the xylitol prevents bacteria from spreading further. Regular use of sugar-free candies containing xylitol can actually provide long-term protection against cavities as well.

The difference between sugar-free and regular gum is, while producing extra saliva and dislodging food particles, the sugar provides a food source for bacteria, and should be avoided.

It is important to note that not all of these gums and candies have xylitol in them, so make sure to check the ingredients. Sugar-free gums produced by Trident, Orbit and Ice Breakers contain xylitol.