Amalgam fillings also called silver fillings have been used in dentistry for more than a century.
While the American Dental Association verifies that amalgam fillings are safe, many dentists are turning away from using this material for fillings and instead relying on non-mercury fillings for their patients.
While the mercury used in amalgam fillings has not been proven to cause adverse health effects, amalgam fillings are not used as often today as they were in the past. In actuality, only 50 percent of these fillings contain mercury, while the other 50 percent contains metals such as silver.
Mercury is used to make the filling more pliable during the setting process but once it hardens is very resistant to damage. Amalgam fillings are one of the most durable filling materials on the market.
People who have concerns over their exposure to mercury from amalgam fillings often question whether or not they should have these fillings removed.
Here’s what you need to know when it comes to removing amalgam fillings.
No, Unless They Are Damaged
Amalgam fillings do expose patients to a small amount of mercury. However, people are exposed to mercury in numerous ways, such as by eating specific types of seafood, or wearing certain types of jewelry.
The truth is that removing your amalgam fillings, if they are not damaged, may actually cause much more damage to your tooth and expose you to significantly more mercury. If your amalgam fillings are intact and there is no decay present, these fillings are best left alone.
To remove your amalgam filling, your Asheville dentist will need to remove more of the healthy tissue of your tooth. Removing these fillings if they aren’t damaged can be risky for both your smile and your body, as they can expose you to more mercury.
Allergic reactions to amalgam fillings are extremely rare. If you suspect you have an allergy to amalgam, you should alert your dentist so that he or she can further evaluate your symptoms and determine if a removal is necessary.
Types of Damage in Amalgam Fillings
Any type of material used to fill your cavity is susceptible to damage. No filling lasts forever and will need to be replaced eventually.
Whether you have an amalgam filling or a composite resin one, these fillings are susceptible to damage such as:
- Cracks. Your filling can crack from an injury to your tooth or just normal wear and tear over time. Cracked fillings allow bacteria into your tooth and will eventually cause symptoms.
- Decay. Decay can occur underneath your dental fillings, especially if your filling material is leaking and it’s gone unnoticed. Although there are virtually no early symptoms of tooth decay, your cavity will eventually become large enough to cause symptoms.
- Faulty seal. When your dentist in Asheville is placing your filling, there is a small risk that the seal between your filling material and your tooth will be faulty. This could be because saliva wasn’t totally removed. An improper seal can allow bacteria in, therefore shortening the lifespan of your filling.
Symptoms of a damaged filling include pain when biting, increased tooth sensitivity, or a toothache. You may also be able to feel a sharp or jagged edge on the filling with your tongue or you may even be seeing pieces of the filling come out.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or seeing signs of a damaged filling, call your Asheville dentist to schedule an appointment right away.
Importance of Getting Your Fillings Examined
Regular dental checkups can help prevent damage to your amalgam fillings and ensure you aren’t being exposed to additional amounts of mercury.
Many people don’t realize their fillings are damaged until it’s too late to prevent additional mercury exposure or even too late to save the tooth with another filling.
When you get a dental exam at the recommended interval of every six months, your dentist can screen for additional tooth decay and check the health of your fillings. This simple step allows your Asheville dentist to notice the damage much sooner and help prevent further exposure to mercury.
If Dr. Saunders finds your amalgam filling is damaged, he can discuss replacement options with you to ensure safe removal and replacement of your filling.
Alternatives to Mercury Fillings
At Saunders DDS, we use non-mercury fillings on our patients with the following materials:
- Composite Resin. This is a mix of materials such as synthetic resin that can match your existing tooth color and have the flexibility to be used for cavities both small and large.
- Glass Ionomer. A mixture of glass particles and acrylic materials, this filling material is often used for small cavities.
- Ceramic. A durable material that’s resilient to many types of damage that matches your teeth and is mercury-free!
These materials allow your Asheville dental practice to provide you with fillings that are free of mercury. With numerous alternatives available for replacing amalgam fillings today, dentists find their patients want to be on the safe side when it comes to treatment.
What Should You Do?
If you’re concerned about mercury in your amalgam fillings, the best thing you can do is keep your teeth healthy and ensure your fillings are still intact.
If your fillings are damaged, they’ll need to be examined by your dentist and will likely need to be replaced. If they aren’t damaged, it’s best to leave amalgam fillings alone at the risk of exposing yourself to more mercury.
Your professional dentist can screen for decay underneath your existing fillings and determine if they need to be replaced. If your fillings do need to be replaced, ask your dentist about their experience removing amalgam fillings. You need an experienced dentist who can safely remove the fillings and provide you with a healthy replacement to continue protecting your tooth.
Are you worried about your amalgam fillings? Schedule an appointment at Saunders DDS to evaluate your fillings. Dr. Saunders can help you decide if your fillings are in good shape or if they need to be replaced.
Amalgam fillings don’t pose a significant risk if they are healthy unless you suspect you have an allergy to them, potentially to pregnant woman, people with impaired kidney function, or to young children. However, when damaged, they can pose a risk to your mouth through additional mercury exposure as well as tooth decay.
It’s easy to keep your fillings healthy with regular exams. When it’s time to replace your amalgam fillings, an experienced dentist can help!
Want to know about replacing amalgam fillings our professional dentist can help you! Book an appointment at (828) 277-6060 now!