Dental amalgam (such as a mercury filling) is a material used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay. It is a sad fact that our modern diets, made up of highly processed, sugar-containing foods is probably the worst offender as it causes tooth decay and thus results in some loss of tooth structure. Fortunately, dental fillings can be used to repair this damage, however some replacements are better than others.
Dental amalgams come with different choices some of which are “tooth-colored” or silver. The tooth colored ones are a composite or porcelain, and the silver fillings (which have been around for at least 150 years) are composed of silver, tin, copper, mercury and zinc. The mercury fillings are fairly cost effective and durable but are also considered unaesthetic as they will blacken with time which will give your teeth a gray appearance and they do not strengthen your tooth.
Bradford Family Dentistry DOES NOT use silver fillings in our practice as they contain mercury and there is real concern over the safety of this heavy metal, and possible side effects of its use; instead, we use a white composite that is strong and pleasing to the eye. Many people are choosing to have their silver amalgams replaced with white tooth colored bonding, especially in the front teeth, so that they look better as they can be matched to the rest of the teeth.
Filling Procedure for Cavity Repair:
- Injection of local anesthetic
- Remove decay and prepare the tooth
- Mix the powders together
- Place it in the tooth and shape it to fill the cavity
- Allow the composite to harden
Your dentist will prepare your mouth accordingly based upon which material is being used and once it has been prepared, a liner may often be used to minimize tooth sensitivity.
There are safety concerns about the silver dental amalgams as they can release small amounts of mercury vapor over time and you can absorb these by inhaling or ingesting them and some of the symptoms of mercury exposure can include:
- Memory loss
- Poor physical co-ordination
- Kidney failure
Composite resin, which is a white filling, has been around for nearly two decades and is composed of an organic polymer (a mixture of compounds) and inorganic particles and this filling, or dental amalgam, provides strength to your tooth and blends in with it. These composite fillings are much preferred especially for your front teeth. The disadvantages to this type of filling is that they cost more, require more of a technique to place and are very susceptible to decay if they are placed improperly.
Another dental amalgam is porcelain and this may be used for fillings referred to as inlays. The advantage to this is that it is very pleasing to look at but the disadvantage is that it is very susceptible to breaking. This one requires two dental visits and costs a lot more than the silver or composite filling.
If you have silver amalgams and are concerned about the possible affects of mercury poisoning, we can remove your fillings and replace them with white composite – tooth coloured fillings. Dental bonding looks just like your other teeth, and has most of the strength and durability of the silver ones but are much safer. Call to book an appointment at: 1-877-283-0497.