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Plastic Fillings
Feb 16, 2001

Should a person with HIV have their already existing fillings replaced with plastic fillings? Do plastic fillings lessen the chances of germs and bacteria in the mouth, especially if the cell count is low and risks of infections are high?

Response from Dr. Reznik

Should a person with HIV have their already existing fillings replaced with plastic fillings? There is no reason why a person living with HIV/AIDS should have their existing amalgam fillings replaced by a tooth-colored filling.

Do plastic fillings lessen the chances of germs and bacteria in the mouth, especially if the cell count is low and risks of infections are high? Again, the answer to this question is no.

At Grady Health System's Oral Health Center we use amalgam as the restoration of choice for posterior fillings. On occasion, we do place tooth-colored materials in posterior teeth if the patient so desires, but this is an esthetic choice, not a medical indication.

The following questions/answers are courtesy of the American Dental Association's website (http://www.ada.org/public/index.asp)

1. Are dental amalgams safe?

Yes. Dental amalgam has been used in tooth restorations worldwide for more than 100 years. Studies have failed to find any link between amalgam restorations and any medical disorder. Amalgam continues to be a safe restorative material for dental patients.

2. Is there a filling material that matches tooth color?

Yes. Composite resins are tooth-colored, plastic materials (made of glass and resin) that are used both as fillings and to repair defects in the teeth. Because they are tooth-colored, it is difficult to distinguish them from natural teeth. Composites are often used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important. They can be used on the back teeth as well depending on the location and extent of the tooth decay. Composite resins are usually more costly than amalgam fillings.

3. Are there limitations to posterior tooth-colored fillings?

Composites may not work if a cavity is too large or an area is subject to heavy chewing. Your dentist knows when composite resin is most appropriate as a restoration material.

Take care,

DR


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