Silver mercury filling removal is replaced with a composite tooth colored white restoration when the silver (amalgam) filling fails due to fracture and decay. When dentists started doing fillings in the 1960s, amalgams (silver fillings) were the restoration of choice.  Dental amalgam is composed of a combination of metals including mercury, silver, tin, and copper.  It was widely available, cost effective to manufacture, and long lasting.  Thus amalgams were widely taught in dental schools as the primary material to place when doing fillings.

Silver Filling Disadvantages

However, as amalgams have gotten older, there have been some notable disadvantages:

  • Amalgam has a mercury component; the ADA and AMA have proclaimed amalgams safe when it in a solidified state inside the mouth, but it is a topic of public interest and debate
  • Amalgam has properties similar to metal; over time and with temperature fluctuations, it tends to expand and contract, which may weaken the adjacent tooth structure and cause the tooth to crack and fracture.
  • Amalgam fillings generally require more removal of tooth structure to hold it in place
  • Silver fillings have poor esthetics; cosmetics is an important criteria today and amalgam’s silver color and metal texture doesn’t really fit the idea of a “natural looking tooth.”

In light of the material and physical disadvantages of amalgams, many patients choose to have their silver mercury filling removed and replaced with composite fillings or tooth-colored fillings.  Our clinic follows a carefully enforced amalgam removal protocol: we use a high speed vacuum suction during the silver filling removal to ensure all of the silver amalgam and dust are removed safely and effectively.  A rubber dam may also be used to prevent residual mercury from being ingested.

Composite Filling Advantages

The advantage of replacing amalgams with composite fillings are:

  • Resins, or tooth-colored fillings, look more natural, and have generally a feel closer to that of natural tooth
  • When amalgams are removed, typically caries, or cavity and decay, are found and removed in the process
  • Composite fillings are not affected by temperature variation and are less likely to crack.

Talk to your dentist to see if having silver mercury filling removal and replaced with tooth-colored fillings (resins) are an appropriate choice.

If you have any questions about removing silver mercury fillings call us at (425) 614-1600.

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