You may be wondering what a metal-free dentist is. In the case of Dr. Susan Dennis, the designation means three different things. First, she does not use silver and mercury amalgam fillings in her practice. Second, she offers sanitary amalgam removal to patients who are concerned about the presence of mercury in their fillings. And third, she avoids the use of porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns and bridges whenever possible, instead taking advantage of the benefits of wonderfully strong ceramic materials and advanced bonding techniques.
White Fillings at a Metal-Free Dentist
The 1980s introduced advanced bonding technology and materials that made white composite fillings possible. Although many dentists and patients were excited about these innovations that eliminated the need to use mercury in fillings, dental schools continue to primarily teach the old mercury and silver amalgam filling methods. Interested in offering white composite fillings because of their cosmetic and functional benefits, Dr. Dennis pursued advanced postgraduate training to acquire the needed skills. White composite fillings strengthen the teeth they fill, they require less drilling and preserve more of the natural tooth, they seal adjacent tooth structures to prevent further decay, and they don’t cause as much tooth sensitivity as amalgam fillings do.
Sanitary Amalgam Removal at a Metal-Free Dentist
Patients who are concerned about the presence of mercury in older amalgam fillings are sometimes also concerned about how to have them removed, so they can replace them with white composite fillings. Dr. Dennis understands, and she offers sanitary amalgam removal, which means that she first seals teeth with amalgam fillings away from the rest of the mouth with a rubber barrier. She then uses highly effective suction methods to make sure that no dust or debris containing mercury is breathed in or swallowed.
Porcelain Crowns and Bridges at a Metal-Free Dentist
Before the advent of advanced ceramic materials and bonding techniques, dental crowns and bridges used to repair damaged teeth were made of porcelain fused to a metal base. A bridge is a restoration for a missing tooth where the two adjacent teeth are prepared to take crowns, and a prosthetic tooth is suspended between them. Although these crowns were strong enough to withstand the pressures of chewing in the back teeth, when used in the front teeth, they often looked flat, lifeless, and opaque and always developed the characteristic black gumline over time.
Dr. Dennis also took advantage of many continuing education courses to learn about the techniques and materials used in metal-free, all-porcelain crowns and bridges. Bonding techniques that add strength to restorations have made the use of all-porcelain crowns and bridges practical in most positions in the mouth. And whenever possible, Dr. Dennis avoids the use of any metal in her restorations. The obvious exception, of course, is the titanium root forms that are used to anchor dental implants.
In addition, Dr. Dennis offers zirconia bridges, which are made of a material so strong and versatile that it has uses in the aerospace and other high-tech industries. In fact, its immense tensile strength has earned it the nickname ceramic steel. Zirconia can be milled to very precise tolerances, and it offers excellent fit and durability when used in crowns and bridges.
You can learn more by reading our porcelain crowns page, our zirconia bridges page or our mercury-free dentist page.
Then if you’re ready to find out more and move forward, request an appointment or call our office to schedule a full exam or a brief complimentary consultation with Dr. Dennis.