There is a long tradition of using metal in fillings. But the metals in amalgam fillings – mercury, silver, tin, and other metals – now make people question past practices, particularly as it relates to the use of mercury.
Mercury is a toxic substance, which makes using it in a filling controversial. No studies prove that mercury fillings are harmful, but people reason that if you can substitute another material, why not err on the side of caution?
In addition, composite fillings have numerous benefits over amalgam restorations, not the least of which is aesthetics.
Dentistry at 1818, which has cosmetic dentistry offices in Philadelphia, offers tooth-colored fillings that give patients natural looking restorations without mercury.
Benefits of Composite Fillings
There are a number of benefits in switching to composite fillings, including:
- Natural Look. Hands down, tooth-colored fillings look better than metal. Not only is an amalgam filling obvious, but with time it will tarnish and cast a grey shadow over the entire tooth.
- Adhesion. Composite resin doesn’t just fill the hole in a cavity; it bonds with the tooth on a micromechanical level and strengthens it. Amalgam just fills the hole.
- Less Drilling. Since amalgam fillings don’t bond with the tooth, extra drilling of healthy tooth is needed to created ledges to lock the filling in place. Composites bond with the tooth, so less tooth needs to be removed to secure them.
Why Replace Amalgam Fillings?
Composite fillings have many benefits, but if you already have amalgam fillings you may be wondering if you should replace them.
The decision should be made on a case-by-case basis, based on the condition of your current fillings and your own concerns. The Food and Drug Administration does not recommend removing metal fillings until they’ve reached the end of their effectiveness because extra drilling may do more harm than good.
However, if your amalgam fillings are old, now would be a good time to consider having them replaced with composite ones. As fillings age, they become loose and allow decay to enter a tooth. The resulting damage may cause you to lose the tooth, which would then require dental implants to restore your bite.
Even if your amalgam fillings are still functional, there may be other reasons for removing them, including:
- Health Concerns. There are no studies that prove the mercury in amalgam fillings is detrimental to your health. However, many people are not comfortable with their amalgam fillings and want them removed.
- Allergic Reactions. Some people are allergic to the materials in an amalgam filling and need to have them replaced.
- Cosmetic Reasons. Metal-colored fillings are unattractive. Composite fillings can be matched to your tooth color, ensuring a natural-looking smile.
What Should You Do?
For many people, removing amalgam fillings is a personal choice. If you want to understand the issues surrounding amalgam fillings and replacing them, please give us a call. We would be happy to assess the condition of your fillings and discuss what’s right for you.