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Should I Replace Old Amalgam Fillings?

Amalgam fillings have been used for decades. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding whether or not to replace old amalgam fillings. Here is a list of some things to consider when discussing this topic with your dentist.

Should I Replace Old Amalgam Fillings?

Pros

  • 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.
  • 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, please don’t ignore and discuss this with your dentist.
  • If your old amalgam filling is broken, you need to get it fixed or replaced.

Cons

  • Old amalgam fillings were used for decades without much concern, and they can last for a very long time, many times for 30-50 years.
  • 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.
  • The use of amalgam fillings required more natural tooth removal. This means replacing old amalgam filings, especially on molars, may require a crown.
  • 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.

Before you make any decisions, it’s important that you discuss your concerns with your dentist.