Should I Have My Metal Fillings Replaced?

Model of teeth with metal amalgam fillings.Tooth decay is a nuisance; even those who practice good oral hygiene are still vulnerable to the ravaging effects of it! Fortunately, solutions like dental fillings exist, and many patients have turned towards options like metal fillings to protect and preserve their pearly whites. But are these metal fillings safe and reliable, or are newer alternatives the way to go? Keep reading to learn more from your dentist in Corte Madera about why metal dental fillings can sometimes be problematic and why replacing them with a suitable alternative might be your best move.

Why Are Metal Fillings Problematic?

Older dental fillings are often composed a material called dental amalgam, which is a mixture of metals including silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury. This mixture has been used in dentistry for over 150 years and is still common today; it’s often referred to as a silver tooth filling because of the color. Even though amalgam fillings are effective at replacing your enamel where it’s been destroyed, there are a few reasons why they’re considered problematic:

  • They’re easily visible and create dark spots in your smile.
  • In order to place them, a small amount of enamel typically needs to be removed.
  • Sometimes once they’re placed, the metal can expand or contract when exposed to extreme temperatures. This can cause hypersensitivity and even possible fracturing in the tooth.
  • Some amalgam fillings contain trace amounts of mercury, which we now know is potentially dangerous to the human body. Studies show that having eight or more mercury amalgam fillings can increase the mercury levels in your blood by up to 150%, which is a harmful level.
  • Some patients experience allergic reactions to certain materials found in amalgam fillings, which can cause oral sores, lesions, or other painful problems.

Is There a Better Alternative to Metal Fillings?

The American Dental Association has stated that metal amalgam fillings are safe for both children and adult patients. However, you might be wondering if there are other options you can consider—the answer is yes! Today, tooth-colored fillings have become a popular solution that offer the same, if not improved, awesome qualities of metal fillings with none of the associated problems. These fillings are made of a composite resin material that is ideal for restorative purposes because of its natural tooth-like appearance.

The material is also inexpensive and easy to manipulate, and it doesn’t dissolve when in contact with liquid. While dental amalgams are a little more durable and still ideal in certain scenarios (like when the patient needs a larger posterior filling), resin-based material is still resilient and becoming and increasingly popular option among patients who need fillings.

If you’re concerned about your metal amalgam fillings and think it might be time for an upgrade, talk with your dentist about receiving fillings made with resin-based materials. They can provide you with all of the same benefits of your amalgam fillings without some of the undesirable risks!

About the Author

Dr. Julie Young received her DDS from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry and has proudly served the dental needs of the Corte Madera area for several years. Dr. Young has taken countless hours of continuing education in a wide range of fields and is a member of the American Dental Association, the California State Dental Association, and the Academy of General Dentistry. If you have any questions or concerns about dental fillings, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Young through her practice’s website or by phone: (415) 924-5300.