Once upon a time, silver or amalgam fillings were standard in the dental industry. However, medical advances now make it possible to have fillings that present a more natural appearance and do not contain the heavy metals that are associated with silver or amalgam. If you were once given metal fillings, you may be wondering if you should have them replaced. Here are some instances in which doing so might be advised.
#1. You want to prevent future cavities
Just because a tooth has been filled in the past does not mean it cannot develop another cavity in the future. It is especially difficult to detect cavities in teeth that have metal fillings, as they tend to hide underneath them and may therefore not be noticed until they become a problem. If you are especially prone to cavities, you may want to consider replacing your fillings as a precautionary measure.
#2. Your filling is leaking
Most metal fillings are made from amalgam, an alloy that contains mercury, tin, silver, and other metals. Amalgam is prone to breaking down over time, in which case your filling may pull away from your tooth and begin to leak. The FDA has determined that the amount of mercury entering one’s system when this happens is well within the safe range. However, the fact that your filling has left an opening in your tooth can cause bacteria, saliva, and food particles to enter, and may also leave your tooth more prone to fracturing.
#3. Your teeth have become weakened due to age or trauma
Silver fillings were typically just packed inside the tooth rather than being adhered to it. The problem with this is that fillings were not distributed over a very wide surface of your tooth, leaving them prone to developing stress fractures. Today’s fillings make teeth 15 to 20 percent stronger because they cover the entire surface of your tooth. As such, you may want to consider them if your teeth have become weakened over time-something that may happen as you age or following trauma to the mouth.
#4. You are self-conscious about your metal fillings
One of the biggest problems with metal fillings is that they are very obvious, particularly if they are in the front of your mouth. As such, many people with silver fillings are often afraid to smile because they feel self-conscious about having a “metal mouth.” If you are bothered by amalgam fillings because you think they are the first thing people see, it may be time to consider replacing them with porcelain, resin, or ceramic.
Here at Bright Dentistry, we see patients every day who are dissatisfied with their metal fillings, but feel there is nothing they can do about them. The truth is that old fillings can easily be replaced with ones that more closely match the color of your natural teeth. If you are dissatisfied with your current fillings, we invite you to schedule an appointment to discuss switching them out with a more modern material.