The Hidden Danger of Your Silver Fillings
What are amalgam or silver fillings?
Dental amalgam is a mixture of metals, consisting of liquid mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper. Approximately 50% of dental amalgam is elemental mercury by weight. Dental amalgam fillings are also known as “silver fillings” because of their silver-like appearance.
The Aesthetic and Health Benefits of Replacing Amalgam Fillings
Replacing silver fillings is good for your health. That’s been well-established as of recent. However, composite fillings also offer an excellent alternative for the sake of your smile. Composite fillings are much more beautiful than amalgam fillings. This is because composite fillings are tooth-colored and blend in seamlessly with your existing teeth.
Solutions for Replacing Amalgam Silver Fillings
Amalgam (silver) fillings were very popular not long ago, but advances in dentistry show that composite (white) fillings are a better option. Composite fillings are healthier for your body, healthier for the tooth, and blend flawlessly with your natural teeth. A composite filling can sometimes replace an amalgam filling. Other times, your dentist may place a porcelain crown to add strength to the tooth and give a more aesthetically pleasing look.
Replacing Old Silver Fillings:
We complete almost all composite fillings in just one appointment. We begin the process by thoroughly numbing your tooth and cleaning out any decay. Then, we’ll sometimes apply medication for added protection. Finally, the dentist will place and shape the composite to look like an improved version of your original tooth. This ensures that the filling fits your current bite.
Porcelain Crowns: Two Trips for a New Tooth
We recommend porcelain dental crowns for teeth that are too damaged to be repaired with a filling. A dental crown covers your entire tooth to correct misshapen, crooked or damaged teeth that need more than a thin veneer. This porcelain crown will look exactly like your tooth prior to the damage and will blend flawlessly with the rest of your teeth.
We complete your dental crown in two steps. During the first appointment, we’ll take impressions to create a custom porcelain crown at an off-site dental laboratory. We make a temporary crown in-house during your appointment and apply that while we wait for your permanent crown to arrive in approximately two weeks. At your second appointment, your temporary crown will be removed and the permanent crown will be placed. The doctor will make sure it fits with your current bite, and then it will be permanently cemented on.
Who should consider removal of amalgam silver fillings?
The following kinds of patients are strongly advised to have amalgam fillings removed:
- Expecting moms
- Young children
- Those with recurrent decay and/or defective margins around their dental amalgam fillings
- Patients who have 8 or more dental amalgam fillings
- Anyone who has exhibited an allergy or sensitivity to dental amalgam (lymphocyte proliferation test)
- Patients with bruxism
- Those who consume high quantities of acidic foods and carbonated beverages.
Frequently Asked Questions about Silver Fillings
What’s the cost of silver fillings? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…
Your dentist will evaluate your teeth to determine which teeth would be candidates for composite fillings vs crowns. If you have dental insurance, these prices can vary based on your individual plan. It is a good idea to schedule an appointment with your Lincoln, NE dentist to get the most accurate estimate.
Does it feel different to chew with composite or silver fillings? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…
Because amalgam fillings are made of metal, they often expand and change shape over time. This can sometimes cause a rough feeling in patients’ mouths. On the other hand, white fillings won’t expand or contract, and they’ll typically retain their smooth comfortable feeling for a lifetime. It’s also been reported by some patients that having amalgam fillings replaced with white fillings causes a feeling of overall wellness. Patients have claimed to feel the health difference in having silver fillings vs. white fillings. While the claim hasn’t been researched enough to be validated, the idea makes sense. Because amalgam has mercury in it, it can be a serious detriment to a person’s health. It’s no wonder then that replacing them has made certain patients feel more healthy.
Is it safe to replace my amalgam fillings? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…
It is indeed safe to replace amalgam fillings. Some patients are concerned about replacing amalgam fillings. In particular, they’re often concerned in cases where the metal has expanded significantly, leaving a portion of a decayed tooth exposed. In these cases, your dentists can effectively remove the remainder of the filling, in order to place a white filling in the space. Assuming they can salvage the tooth, the dentist will be able to place a new filling in the hole left behind.
Are silver fillings bad for you? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…
Recent research suggests that mercury vapor is released from silver fillings during chewing, brushing and temperature changes that can occur in the mouth. Many patients are concerned about the safety of leaving their amalgam fillings intact. In our office, we do not place any silver fillings, but we do remove them safely for our patients. For patients who are interested in removing silver fillings, schedule an appointment with your Lincoln, NE dentist to evaluate the condition of your silver fillings. Generally, it is a good idea to leave stable silver fillings alone until such time that they require replacement due to recurrent decay, fractures, etc.
Do dentists still place silver fillings? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…
About half of U.S. dentists still place silver fillings, despite the availability of superior techniques and materials. In some cases, amalgam is placed due to the low cost to the doctor and patient. Older dentists may be more inclined to use it as they are more familiar with the techniques used in amalgam placement than the techniques for successful composite fillings. In general, it is less desirable for a patient to have silver fillings placed in their teeth. Today we have composite materials which do not require the removal of additional tooth structure beyond what has been compromised by decay. Amalgam fillings require that the tooth be prepared in an undercut shape for proper retention. This creates a wedge in the tooth, weakening the surrounding tooth structure and leading to cracked and fractured teeth. Because modern techniques for composite material are superior, it is in always a better choice avoid amalgam fillings.
My tooth is very sensitive to biting after recent dental work. Is this normal? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…
Occasionally, patients are unable to re-create their biting pattern under local anesthesia when the dentist checks their bite at the end of their appointment. This makes patients bite harder against the tooth and causes the tooth to feel sore and bruised. Your Lincoln, NE dentist can easily adjust your new dental work to accommodate your bite when you are not numb.
How long will my tooth hurt after a filling? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…
Every case varies based on the treatment that patients have received as well as their own habits (grinding teeth, chewing gum). Usually, your symptoms will start improving within a few days to weeks after your treatment. Tooth inflammation after dental work can take up to 8 weeks to fully resolve. If your tooth continues to ache and becomes a sharp toothache, the nerve of your tooth may not be healing properly, which will require further treatment.
Check out the “Amalgam Fillings: What is the fuss” video.
Annual Plan Benefits
For Lincoln Dental Plans
2 Emergency Exams
2 Routine Dental Cleanings (Every 12 Months)
25% Discount on Select Procedures
LDP offers discounts on the following procedures:
Dental Crowns (Excludes Cosmetic Crowns)
Professional Teeth Whitening
Learn More about Lincoln Dental Plans Membership