This is a great question that comes around all of the time still, even though I haven’t placed a mercury filling in almost 25 years.
It’s a tricky question that needs to be looked at from a few different perspectives.
We can start by looking at the differences between the options of dental amalgam and bonding.
Obviously a tooth-colored filling is more esthetically pleasing than a silver one. We love beautiful smiles, and white fillings win!
Most people are on board with the idea that conservative treatment is usually best. That means when we remove decay and shape your tooth to receive a filling, we can keep more of the healthy tooth intact when placing a tooth-colored restoration. A traditional silver is wedged into your tooth into undercuts that we have to drill into the tooth to get it to stay in place.
On the other hand, a tooth-colored one is actually bonded to the remaining tooth structure. Once we’re drilling out the decay we’re done drilling.
Because a tooth-colored filling is bonded in place, the result will be a stronger tooth. Yeah!!
The Mercury amalgam filling has one of the elements that expands and contracts to temperature changes the most violently as the main ingredient. It’s bad to place that inside a brittle, inflexible structure like enamel.
Amalgam, the material that makes up “silver fillings,” has been around for centuries, and in the 1800s it became the material of choice for dental restorations. Amalgam is made of several metals including mercury, which is known as a toxic material. And that is where the controversy begins.
Due to this toxicity combined with the beauty and strength of non-metal materials, we no longer place amalgam in this practice. But what about existing silver fillings? Should they be removed?
Every time you have a dental exam in our office, we inspect your fillings with our vision, dental instruments, and necessary x-rays. If there are any cracks, leaks, fractures, surrounding decay, or other problems, we typically recommend replacing fillings using the appropriate procedure. However, in most cases amalgam fillings that are functioning well, free of decay or fractures and not causing cosmetic issues are left intact.
There are many pseudo-scientific reports that tout the dangers of having mercury fillings in your mouth.
I have yet to see a report from a peer-reviewed, legitimate source espousing any risk associated with having them in your teeth. The mercury in the filling started out as the free radical mercury of concern. However, in the amalgamation process all of that mercury is bound to the other metals or removed at the time of placement.
Since we haven’t placed a mercury filling for almost 25 years credible news of the need to replace amalgams would be welcomed news to us. It just isn’t out there. Yet? Maybe someday.
This decision is backed by The American Dental Association and most other governing dental research organizations. As with anything else, everyone is different and there are exceptions to every rule. At Dillon Family Dentistry your health is always our primary concern, so please feel free to come to us with any questions you may have.
Remember, we are here for you! Call 610-525-5497.