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Benefits of Composite Materials for Fillings

benefits-composite-materials-fillings-green-hills-smilesFor most people, at least once in their lifetime, they will be required to get a filling. Commonly, fillings are used to treat a cavity that has formed in the tooth but occasionally fillings are used to fix cracked or damaged teeth. With a cavity, a filling is simply used to fill the space the cavity has formed within the tooth to make it more structurally sound. Typically when trying to repair a cracked tooth, the crack becomes wider and deeper with repeated pressure over time. With the crack formed in the tooth a filling is necessary to repair the void created by the crack. Regardless of the cause, a filling can lead to many options for the patient including which material to use to fill the void.

Metal Fillings

When asked to picture what a filling looks like, most people form a picture in their brain of what is called the amalgam filling. These are the traditional silver colored metal fillings. They are called amalgam fillings because they are made up of a mixture of different metals. In a normal amalgam filling about half of the metal is made of mercury and combined with zinc, silver, or copper. With the advances in dentistry and medicine, dentists are now able to fill teeth with composite materials. This material is usually a mix of an acrylic resin and glass in a powdered form.

Composite Benefits

So what is the benefit of composite material? Mainly the biggest advantage is the ability to match the composite material to the color of the tooth. Aesthetically, composite material is the way to go. Ultimately, some of the composite material has the potential to stain and discolor with certain foods and drinks but this is no different from teeth themselves. With an amalgam filling, the tooth has the very visible silver filling. With an amalgam filling you are unable to change the color. Additionally, composite materials can be used to fill much smaller cavities than with amalgam. This is because the composite material actually bonds to the tooth. Through this bonding the composite is more likely to protect the tooth from temperature change. The bonding also makes a much stronger tooth structure which in turn protects the tooth from future cracking. Plus, with the composite material actually bonding to the tooth there is much less need for the tooth to be drilled. Any drilling that takes place with a composite material filling is very minimal.

When comparing the longevity of a composite filling and a amalgam filling they are about dead even. Typically a composite filling will last between 7 and 10 years which is exactly the same as a amalgam filling. If something should happen that damages the composite filling it is much easier to repair than trying to repair a traditional amalgam filling. The only real instance where a composite filling does not outlast a amalgam filling is on very large cavities. For this reason, amalgam is still the preferred filling material for large cavities. In our dentistry practice we offer the very latest in composite fillings to seamlessly blend with your teeth. Visit our website today to schedule a visit.

Preventing Tooth Decay the Smart Way

preventing tooth decay

When someone says, "Oh, it’s just one cavity," it is a clear indicator they are unaware of the conditions that must be present in the mouth to cause that cavity. Bacteria is no laughing matter, especially when left unchecked in the mouth for extended periods of time. Science continues to uncover more about the relationship between oral health and overall health. Dr. Eckel and the team at Green Hills Smiles are here to help you prevent tooth decay the smart way.

Follow a Dentist Recommended Oral Hygiene Routine

Chances are, you have all of the dental hygiene tools you need to battle decay on the front lines. A soft-bristled toothbrush, dental floss or flossers, and fluoridated mouthwash remove food particles and bacteria left behind by brushing alone. Brushing twice a day is the first step in removing build-up from teeth surfaces. Dental floss helps you reach the spaces between teeth and under the gum line to get rid of plaque before it calcifies. Fluoride mouthwash rinses away loose particles, plus it kills or neutralizes bacteria so it cannot create the acids that cause decay.   

Opt for Fluoride

If you have access to fluoridated drinking water, it can have a positive impact on dental health. Fluoride disrupts the life cycle of the bacteria that live in your mouth. Because fluoride also replaces lost minerals in tooth enamel, it can stop and even reverse mild decay. Fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash should be the base from which your dental hygiene routine begins. 

Choose Xylitol Between Brushings

Xylitol is often overshadowed by fluoride, but it has been used for decades in the war on tooth decay. Did you know that Xylitol can boost the remineralization process begun by fluoride? It turns out that using both fluoride and Xylitol as part of a dental hygiene routine has a positive synergistic effect on tooth enamel. Brushing after meals or snacks may not always be possible, even when we understand fewer bacteria usually means less decay. Knowing this, it is a good idea to keep sugarless gum or candies containing Xylitol on hand to boost saliva production and help neutralize acids. What better way to fight tooth decay than with a natural sweetener the bacteria in the mouth cannot digest!  

Is a Prescription Mouthwash in Order?

If you have recently undergone certain dental procedures, Dr. Eckel may recommend a prescription mouthwash. Periodontal disease requires commitment to a long-term dental hygiene routine that often begins with deep cleanings and antibiotics. A prescription strength antimicrobial mouthwash can help heal swollen and irritated gums regardless of the cause.

Make Your Next Appointment at Green Hills Smiles

As brilliant as the team at Green Hills Smiles is, they cannot fight tooth decay without your help. Dr. Eckel will work with you to create the ideal dental hygiene routine, including regular dental cleanings and check-ups. Brushing and rinsing twice a day and flossing at least once are the best steps you can take to fight tooth decay at home. Get in touch to learn more about proper preventative practices that will keep tooth decay at bay.

Common Causes of Bleeding Gums

common causes of bleeding gums

No need to panic if you notice your gums bleeding! Simple changes in your oral hygiene routine are the most common reasons for gum irritation and bleeding. Switching dental tools like toothbrushes and floss can be rough on gums. Believe it or not, even pregnancy can wreak havoc on gum health. While minor bleeding is likely caused by innocent changes, it is crucial to check with Dr. Eckel at Green Hills Smiles if your gums continue to bleed for more than a few days. Gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis are serious conditions that can lead to bleeding gums, tooth loss, and bone loss if left untreated.

New Dental Equipment

There’s no doubt that sweet new sonic toothbrush makes your teeth feel shiny and new. Your gums may rebel temporarily when you begin brushing with a new brush or brush head. Even with standard soft-bristled toothbrushes, a new brush that is the same style and brand can cause an issue since the old brush was likely worn down before it was replaced. Whether you prefer electric, battery operated, or old-school toothbrushes, go with the softest bristle you can find. Bleeding gums caused by new dental equipment should clear up on its own in about a week.

Changes in Dental Hygiene Routine

Visiting Dr. Eckel and the team at Green Hills Smiles twice a year is the best way to ensure dental health issues are caught before they get too serious. If you get sent home with instructions to follow a new intensive dental hygiene routine, you may experience bleeding gums at first. People who have not flossed consistently, or at all, will likely experience bleeding and irritation for about a week. As long as you stick with the routine outlined by Dr. Eckel, you should notice an improvement in gum health in the long-run.


Does it need to be said that bacteria taking up residence in your gums is bad? Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. Plaque left behind due to poor brushing habits creates a space between teeth and gums. This space allows bacteria to build up under the gum line. As scary as it may sound, gingivitis can be reversed. Attending dental appointments and sticking to proper brushing and flossing habits can clear bacteria from under the gums and stop it from returning.

Pregnancy Related Gingivitis

Since bacteria is the leading cause of gum disease, imagine the problems that can arise if the mouth temporarily loses its ability to combat the bad bacteria. As serious as it sounds, pregnancy gingivitis and the associated bleeding gums should go away following the pregnancy. In the meantime, use a warm salt water rinse to help ease irritation and continue to brush and floss as directed.

Changes in Medications

If you have recently changed medications or dosages, it is worth mentioning to Dr. Eckel. Some medications can turn bleeding gums into a serious issue. Blood thinners alter the blood’s ability to clot, so if you are on any type of blood thinner, it is important to inform your dentist. 

At Green Hills Smiles, we are committed to keeping our patients’ teeth and gums healthy. We can help get to the bottom of your bleeding gums, whether they are the result of simple changes to your dental hygiene routine or a more serious problem. Check-in with the team at Green Hills Smiles to get your gums back on the right track.

Why Seeing Your Dentist Regularly is Good For Your Health

Dentist in Nashville, TNThe secret to having a great smile is not being born with a set of great teeth. It’s having regular dental exams with a dentist in Nashville, TN. As often as you hear about how often you should see your dentist, you may not understand the importance of having regular checkups. Here is a brief overview on why seeing your dentist is good for your health.

Aids in the Prevention of Gum Disease

Gum disease is a major concern for millions of people in the country. Many of them do not know they have the condition. Countless others are unaware they are at risk of developing it. Brushing and flossing your teeth are not the only ways you can keep plaque and bacteria from building up on your teeth and gums and causing inflammation. Regular dental exams are also necessary for the early detection and treatment of gum disease.

Untreated, gum disease can lead to drastic changes in the appearance and health of one’s smile. Gum inflammation, recession, sensitivity and tooth loss are common problems that gum disease sufferers encounter. Gum disease is not curable, but regular care from a Nashville dentist can slow down its progression and prevent the need for expensive and intensive dental care in the future.

Protects Overall Health

Poor oral health has been linked to several chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. People who don’t have major health problems and neglect their oral health are at an elevated risk of developing them. Individuals who have certain chronic health issues are more likely to experience complications. Signs of some health conditions appear in the mouth before they show up anywhere else on the body. A dentist can spot signs vitamin and mineral deficiencies, diabetes, oral cancer and other ailments with an examination.

Keep Bad Habits From Damaging Teeth

Many foods, snacks, beverages and personal habits can damage your teeth. For example, if you like to chew ice and eat hard foods like nuts, you could end up chipping your teeth or breaking them. Your dentist can educate you about the effects your bad habits can have on your teeth. They can also identify and treat any problems that develop.

Saves Time and Money

Seeing your dentist regularly can keep you from needing more frequent dental appointments to treat and save your smile. The more work your smile needs to become healthy and attractive, the more time and money you can expect to spend.

Improves Your Smile’s Appearance

Many of the foods you eat and some medications contain staining substances that can dull the whiteness of your teeth. Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and the use of over-the-counter teeth whitening products are not sufficient enough to keep stains away. Regular dental exams provide the perfect opportunity for professional teeth cleaning so you can enjoy a whiter and healthier smile.

It may not seem like a big deal if you miss a few dental appointments. However, oral health problems often develop quickly and can escalate to major issues before you become aware of them. The best way to protect your smile’s health and appearance is to see your dentist regularly.