Should they stay or should they go? A common concern we hear about from our patients – especially those who haven’t seen the dentist for quite some time – is about the safety of mercury or silver fillings (also known in the field of dentistry as amalgam) that they have in their mouth. These fillings were likely placed years and years ago before modern composite restorations became commonplace. Even though they might have been in a patient’s mouth for a long time without any real issue, is it advisable to go ahead and replace the material of those existing fillings with composite? Dr. Austin explains:
Here at Austin Family Dentistry, we do recommend that your existing silver amalgam fillings be changed out with composite restorations for several different reasons. First, those silver fillings have a lot of mercury in them. Traditionally, they are about 50% mercury. Why? Well, think about a thermometer. When you put mercury in a thermometer, it expands when it’s exposed to heat. Consequently, when you cool it down, it contracts. When you have a silver filling in a tooth, it expands when you drink something hot and contracts when you drink something cold. What’s the worst that could happen, you may ask? This process can actually fracture your teeth.
Years ago, amalgam fillings were the best type of restoration possible in the field of dentistry. Today, however, dentists prefer composite restorations that bond to the teeth. These restorations actually strengthen the teeth instead of fracturing them. They are also preferred by patients because they look a lot better. You can have multiple composite restorations in your mouth, and people would never even know that you had those fillings in the first place because they match the color of your teeth. Composite restorations are strong, look great, and they’re absolutely the best fillings that you can have.
We’re also asked about the toxicity of mercury. In the United States, you’re allowed to keep mercury in two different places: in a sealed glass container or in a person’s teeth. We know; it really doesn’t make sense. So, as a patient, if you have questions about mercury and independently research its safety, it is really a matter of your personal preference and concern level when it comes to replacing those existing fillings due to possible toxicity. We can say, however, that there has been documentation over the years that attributes mercury to health problems, but we will ultimately allow our patients to make that call.
If you’ve been looking for dentist offices in the Little Rock area, you’ll find a home here at Austin Family Dentistry! Our dentists in Little Rock, Arkansas, are devoted to the safety and peace of mind of our patients. We specialize in family dentistry, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, sedation dentistry, and much more. Click below to make an appointment with us today; new patients receive a free teeth whitening!