Amalgam fillings, often called silver fillings because of the color, contain a mix of mercury, copper, silver, tin, and zinc. By weight, silver fillings are about 50% mercury; unfortunately, mercury can be a problematic metal.
The FDA advises against amalgam fillings for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under 6, and people with kidney dysfunction or metal sensitivities.
As a mercury-free practice, Dr. David Blaustein and our team here at Chelsea Dental Aesthetics in New York City proudly offer tooth-colored fillings. But if you already have silver fillings, should you replace them?
If you develop a new dental cavity, we can fill it with a tooth-colored, mercury-free material. However, if you have silver fillings, you may want to replace them. Here are a few reasons why:
Silver fillings, like all dental restorations, are susceptible to problems related to wear-and-tear. Over time, the force of chewing can cause your amalgam filling to pull away from your enamel.
Bruxism, or grinding and clenching your teeth, can also cause your silver filling to separate from the surrounding enamel.
Replacing fillings that show signs of wear-and-tear can help you avoid future problems. Left uncorrected, bacteria and food debris can slide between your enamel and the amalgam, leading to further decay, pain, and infection.
Bottom line: If your fillings are wearing out, if they’re separating from your enamel, or if you’re experiencing increased tooth sensitivity, it’s time to consider a replacement.
Wear-and-tear happens slowly, but sometimes your filling can become damaged or even fall out. This can happen quickly and may be accompanied by pain and sensitivity.
If your filling falls out, call us right away so we can replace it. While you wait for your appointment, use a temporary filling from a dental first-aid kit. If you don’t have a first-aid kit, use a piece of sugar-free gum.
Setting aside the toxic effects of mercury, the other metals in silver fillings can affect people negatively. Contact hypersensitivity to metal is on the rise and afflicts 10%–15 % of people. Metal sensitivity can cause irritation, red skin, and bumps.
Even if your silver filling isn’t causing problems, you may still wish to have it replaced. As a mercury-free dental office, we understand concerns about metal sensitivity and the dangers of mercury and are prepared to help you switch to resin onlays.
Resin onlays are tooth-colored restorations that strengthen and protect your teeth without the dangers of mercury or the risk of metal toxicities. Composite fillings are metal-free and made from powdered glass quartz (or silica or other ceramic particles) combined in a resin base.
If you’d like to learn more about tooth-colored fillings, call our office on West 23rd Street in Manhattan or request your appointment online.