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.

However, as amalgams have gotten older, there have been some noteable disadantages:

  • 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.
  • Amaglam 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 metalized 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 filings removed and replaced with composite fillings, or tooth-colored fillings.  Your gentle family Bellevue dentist here at Bellevue Family Dentistry 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.

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 your silver fillings removed and replaced with tooth-colored fillings (resins) are an appropriate choice.

If you have any questions about dental bridges for your family dentist in Bellevue, contact us at (425) 614-1600 today!

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