Amalgam is a type of dental filling material used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay. It has been used for more than 150 years in hundreds of millions of patients around the world.
Dental amalgam fillings, also known as “silver fillings” because of their silver-like appearance, is a mixture of metals, consisting of liquid (elemental) mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper.
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding whether or not to replace amalgam fillings. Here are some of the things you should know about these metal fillings.
- Old amalgam fillings were used for decades without much concern, and they can last for a very long time. However, if your old amalgam filling is broken, you need to get it fixed or replaced right away.
- Regarding the mercury in amalgam fillings, the greatest risk of mercury exposure is during the placement and removal of the filling. While the debate of whether or not the amount of mercury released from an established metal filling is even significant, it’s clear that removing them will expose a patient to higher levels than keeping them in. If you do end up needing to remove/replace old amalgam fillings, be sure your dentist uses appropriate procedures to minimize exposure.
- Sometimes old amalgam fillings can start “leaking” which can cause tooth pain or even cavities that aren’t picked up by x-rays. If your tooth with an amalgam filling is causing you pain, don’t ignore it and discuss this with your dentist.
- Replacing old metal fillings can be cost-prohibitive, especially if you have several you want to take care of, and many times insurance does not cover this kind of replacement.
- Metal amalgam fillings aren’t aesthetically pleasing. Newest advances in dental technology now offer some great tooth-colored composites and porcelain fillings that look like your natural tooth.
- The use of amalgam fillings required more natural tooth removal. This means replacing old amalgam fillings, especially on molars, may require a crown.
Before you make any decisions about silver filling replacement, it’s important that you discuss your concerns with your dentist. Scottsdale cosmetic dentist Dr. Reem Kidess and her team of experts will make sure you’ll receive a personalized solution for your dental filling needs.