Lithium Disilicate: What Is It?

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The ability to fabricate a crown or veneer from a single block of ceramic material called lithium disilicate is one of the most exciting changes in the field of restorative dentistry.

What Is Lithium Disilicate?

This dental material is a type of glass ceramic composed of lithium (which is a soft, silvery white metal) and silicon (which is a hard, brittle, crystalline solid). Your dentist combines it with other crystal-like elements to make anterior veneers, which are shells that go on your front teeth in cosmetic dentistry, as well as full crowns or caps for teeth toward the back of the mouth. The properties of the material, such as a realistic tooth-like color, also make it ideal for use in dental fillings.

Benefits of Lithium Disilicate

People are conscious about their smile and how they look, so lithium disilicate crowns are popular. A study published by the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research concludes that, compared to other ceramics, lithium disilicate had the best translucency, which is an important factor to consider for esthetics. This means the fillings can better match your natural teeth.

Also, you can enter your dentist's office with a chipped front tooth and leave that same day with a restoration. Using more traditional methods, your dentist would have to send your dental impressions to a lab, and it would take a week or so to receive the final restoration. But with this new approach, your dental appliance is ready to be inserted in about an hour. That's because the crowns are fabricated in-house at the dental office with a CAD/CAM machine, which carves the crown or filling from a solid block of material.

Plus, research presented by the Journal of Prosthodontics shows that in clinical trials, lithium disilicate crowns were more resistant to wear at a three-year follow up compared to alumina-based crowns. So not only does this material make your dental appointments more convenient, it also means you may need fewer appointments in the future to redo deformed fillings and crowns.

Caring for Your Lithium Disilicate Restorations

To avoid scratching the surfaces of your crowns or fillings, use a low-abrasion toothpaste and a soft toothbrush, such as Colgate Wave Gum Comfort toothbrush, which comes in ultra-soft bristle firmness. Going for routine preventive maintenance and periodic exams ensures a dental professional can check your fillings or crowns for possible damage to guarantee a lifetime of smiles and comfort.

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What to Expect During a FILLING

  1. Local anesthesia – at the beginning of your filling procedure, you may be given local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth.

  2. Tooth decay removal – then the dentist will cut through the enamel using a drill to remove any decay. After the dentist removes the decay, the dentist will shape the space to ready it for the filling.

  3. Etching – for a bonded filling your dentist will etch the tooth with an acid gel before placing the filling.

  4. Resin application – for certain types of fillings the dentist will layer on the resin and harden it using a bright light. This makes it strong.

  5. Polishing – after the filling has been placed, your dentist will polish the tooth.