Many patients come to us wanting to upgrade their silver fillings. They want their outdated metal fillings removed and exchanged with tooth-colored fillings. You can see side-by-side examples in the photo above of bonded white fillings vs. metal amalgam fillings. Patients commonly cite esthetic and overall health concerns about their metal fillings. It’s true that the esthetics of a smile can be drastically enhanced with a far more natural, tooth colored restoration. In addition to this, there are lots of reasons why it makes sense to upgrade to a tooth-colored porcelain “filling” or maybe a resin composite filling.
Everything wears away, and your silver fillings are no exception. They withstand tense and heavy biting forces on a daily basis, and as they age, they crack, leak and can also cause damaging fractures in teeth. After some time, metal amalgam fillings can actually absorb water, causing them to swell and even break free from the tooth. When this occurs, your tooth is far more prone to tooth decay and sensitivity.
Mercury/Silver fillings have some negatives worth listing that need to be thought of if it’s time for you to replace your restorations:
Silver fillings are less appealing than tooth-colored fillings. After all, they don’t in the least resemble a natural part of the tooth.
Amalgam expands and shrinks whenever subjected to cold and hot extremes inside your mouth. The frequent growth and shrinkage with temperature might set off cracks as well as fractures in teeth. There will not be any kind of symptoms for a while, yet these teeth could become very sensitive as the crack increases or opens when you bite down or chew food. It’s not abnormal for patients to come in wanting to know the way they broke their own tooth when they had been eating something soft similar to bread or a banana. What they don’t know is that the tooth most likely had a crack in it well before it ultimately came apart.
Silver fillings under regular chewing pressure are susceptible to metal fatigue or flexing and bending failure, a concept which may be understood and shown by continuously bending a paperclip until it eventually breaks.
Metal fillings are much harder and far less flexible compared to the teeth they’re wedged into. The more time they may be on the teeth, the greater pressure they put on the rest of the weakened outer surfaces of the tooth bringing about fractures and cracks.
Metal fillings are not glued into the tooth cavity. They merely sit in the surrounding tooth and react under pressure to wedge the tooth apart, just like a metal wedge is required to split logs into firewood.
A minute space around the filling edge exists as soon as the silver filling is plugged into the tooth and in this space, continuous corrosion and leakage takes place. This unnoticeable space is large enough to allow bacteria and food particles to seep in after a while and result in tooth decay at the border between the tooth and the filling. Composite fillings, however, are actually glued to the tooth surfaces and seal the margins closed from bacterial invasion.
In order to prepare a tooth for a composite filling, the tooth can usually be treated far more gently with less healthy tooth structure needing to be removed. And thus, the dentist can retain the highest possible level of original tooth structure as is feasible.
Silver fillings necessitate drilling undercuts (think carving out a pumpkin) along with the removal of more substantial healthy portions out of the tooth in order to keep the mercury amalgam filling from falling out because it is not attached directly to the tooth. These undercuts can also compromise the tooth as fillings get bigger and relegate that tooth to subsequent fracture down the road. These fractures might be substantial resulting in crowning the tooth to restore it and even major fractures bringing about removal of the tooth.
Composites, with their chance to be conservative and implementing their adhesive attributes, may reinforce and protect against fracture. Through blocking the opportunity for cracking before experiencing the hassles of hot/cold sensitivity as well as biting pain, innovative conservative treatment options including tooth-colored restorations or porcelain-bonded restorations are protecting against the side effects of toothaches and broken teeth.
Finally, in many dentists’ opinions, bonded natural-colored restoratives are likely to be safer compared to traditional fillings, given that they don’t include any mercury. Although the American Dental Association (ADA) states the utilization of mercury in metal fillings is safe, there is an ongoing disagreement within the dental sector regarding the adverse effects of those mercury amalgam fillings. Many European countries actually prohibited the utilization of mercury amalgam fillings in order to avoid any kind of risks related to mercury.
When reviewing the amount of negatives associated, and potentially associated, with mercury amalgam fillings, it becomes clear why patients are asking us to be PROACTIVE about replacement of mercury fillings as opposed to being REACTIVE and holding off until the tooth cracks or develops decay under the amalgam plug.