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Dental fillings

Got a cavity? Get a filling. Dental fillings are the first line of defense against tooth decay.

Should I switch my metal fillings for white ones?

LaSaundra Estelle (New York, NY) on Nov 14, 2011
If there is any type of discoloration of the tooth or micro gaps between the tooth and filling, then yes, I recommend changing the filling.
Brook Derenzy (Redmond, OR) on Nov 14, 2011
If you have been told by your naturopath that you are susceptible to heavy metal toxicity, then yes, you may opt to have your silver amalgam fillings removed. However, make sure your dentist is "chunking" them out upon removal and using appropriate methods to isolate your mouth during their removal. When high-speed handpieces are used to "vaporize" or "pulverize" the metal mercury fillings, the mercury removed can actually be more harmful in this state. Old leaking silver fillings should be removed to prevent decay. However, I don't generally encourage removal of silver mercury amalgam fillings unless there are signs of breakdown, cracks, or decay. My office has been mercury-free for 6 years, simply because bonded, tooth-colored filling materials are more predictable in my hands and desired by patients.
Elisa Mello (New York, NY) on Nov 14, 2011
The simple answer is yes. White fillings are better than silver fillings. However, my advice is to do your research. By the way, the amount of silver compared to mercury in these fillings is ridiculously low. There is 50% mercury in these fillings. This is a staggering amount of mercury especially when you consider that mercury is the most dangerous non-radioactive compound. Why would anyone in their right mind want to have this outdated material in their body? A major concern with removing silver fillings is that they need to be done by someone who is highly trained. When these fillings are being removed, they release mercury vapors in the air. This is more dangerous than keeping them in your mouth. Dentists that are trained in safe removal of mercury fillings have special equipment that traps all the vapors so they are not harming the patient or the dentist. The other concern in removing these fillings is what they are being replaced with. Most white fillings release BPA chemicals that are not a safe alternative. Find a dentist that is properly trained before the decision to remove these fillings.
Ramin Tabib (New York, NY) on Nov 14, 2011
The simple answer is yes. White fillings are better than silver fillings. However, my advice is to do your research. By the way, the amount of silver compared to mercury in these fillings is ridiculously low. There is 50% mercury in these fillings. This is a staggering amount of mercury especially when you consider that mercury is the most dangerous non-radioactive compound. Why would anyone in their right mind want to have this outdated material in their body? A major concern with removing silver fillings is that they need to be done by someone who is highly trained. When these fillings are being removed, they release mercury vapors in the air. This is more dangerous than keeping them in your mouth. Dentists that are trained in safe removal of mercury fillings have special equipment that traps all the vapors so they are not harming the patient or the dentist. The other concern in removing these fillings is what they are being replaced with. Most white fillings release BPA chemicals that are not a safe alternative. Find a dentist that is properly trained before the decision to remove these fillings.
Aziza Askari (Farmington Hills, MI) on Nov 14, 2011
Amalgam fillings contain a small amount of mercury, which is a toxic heavy metal. For most people, amalgam fillings pose no threat, other than looking unattractive. However, the FDA tells us that pregnant women, young children, elderly patients, and people with mercury sensitivity should avoid amalgam fillings. Modern composite resin fillings, as well as ceramic inlays and onlays, contain no metal, no mercury, and are tooth colored, so they look natural. As a cosmetic dentist in Farmington Hills, MI, Dr. Askari does not place amalgam fillings. She offers contemporary safe esthetic alternatives.
Kamini Talati (Port Saint Lucie, FL) on Nov 14, 2011
Silver filling have mercury in them but at this point they not causing any damage to your body. When they are removed the mercury is released and the suction used by the dentist will remove most of it from your mouth. By replacing them with a composite filling you place the tooth at risk for future sensitivity. If the tooth becomes sensitive to hot and cold after the replacement, you may need a root canal and crown. I tell my patients to leave intact fillings alone. We replace failing fillings.
Leonard Tau (Philadelphia, PA) on Nov 14, 2011
In my opinion mercury is not the reason to remove silver fillings. The reason I recommend their removal is because teeth can crack because of the silver filling.
Amanda Seay (Mount Pleasant, SC) on Nov 14, 2011
The toxicity of mercury will always be an ongoing debate. I do believe that old silver fillings that begin to fail over time should be replaced, not for the fear of mercury toxicity, but for the microleakage of bacteria that occur underneath the filling. These fillings often fail without any symptoms that the patient is aware of. As the bacteria leakage occurs underneath these fillings, the process of a cavity begins. Composite fillings are an excellent option when done with skill and proper tooth isolation. Ensure your dentist follows a strict bonding protocol when placing these composite restorations and that they have current, post-dental school training.
Christopher Baer (Aurora, CO) on Nov 14, 2011
This is a pretty hot topic in dentistry and I actually had this same discussion with one of my patients this morning. The silver fillings or "amalgams" do contain mercury which can with time leach into the tooth. Claims have been made that these silver fillings lead to diseases, though this has never been proven in any scientific studies. We do know that mercury is toxic to humans, but so is table salt in excess. If you elect to have them removed, then tooth colored or white fillings could replace them or you could elect to go with glass or ceramic restorations which are also tooth-colored. I am not an advocate for just taking out silver fillings because they are "bad". I remove them when there is decay around or underneath them, or if they are breaking down and are fractured.
Michael Apa (New York, NY) on Dec 2, 2011
not because of mecury toxicity. the truth is that you may need to replace them because they may be getting old and leaking. but not because of mercury toxicity. the average lifespan of a healthy filling is 7-10 years. if you've had it much longer than that, it may be a good idea to get them checked.