Posts for tag: fillings
Dental amalgam—also known as “silver fillings”—has been used for nearly a hundred years to treat cavities. There are several reasons why this mixture of metals has been the go-to material among dentists: Malleable when first applied, dental amalgam sets up into a durable dental filling that can take years of biting forces. What’s more, it’s stable and compatible with living tissue.
But there’s been growing concern in recent years about the safety of dental amalgam, with even some wondering if they should have existing fillings replaced. The reason: liquid mercury.
Mercury makes up a good portion of dental amalgam’s base mixture, to which other metals like silver, tin or copper are added to it in powder form. This forms a putty that can be easily worked into a prepared cavity. And despite the heightened awareness of the metal’s toxicity to humans, it’s still used in dental amalgam.
The reason why is that there are various forms of mercury and not all are toxic. The form making headlines is known as methylmercury, a compound created when mercury from the environment fuses with organic molecules. The compound builds up in the living tissues of animals, particularly large ocean fish, which have accumulated high concentrations passed up through their food chain.
That’s not what’s used in dental amalgam. Dentists instead use a non-toxic, elemental form of mercury that when set up becomes locked within the amalgam and cannot leach out. Based on various studies, treating cavities with it poses no health risks to humans.
This also means there’s no medical reason for having an existing silver fillings removed. Doing so, though, could cause more harm than good because it could further weaken the remaining tooth structure.
The most viable reason for not getting a dental amalgam filling is cosmetic: The metallic appearance of amalgam could detract from your smile. There are newer, more life-like filling options available. Your dentist, though, may still recommend dental amalgam for its strength and compatibility, especially for back teeth. It’s entirely safe to accept this recommendation.
Silver fillings aren't the only choice when you have a cavity. Tooth-colored fillings offer an excellent alternative to amalgam fillings. Ringwood, NJ, dentists Dr. David Kahn and Dr. John Pergolizzi care for your oral health with fillings and other treatment options that will help you maintain a healthy smile.
What are tooth-colored fillings?
The best filling material lasts for years and doesn't move or break when you chew hard foods. For years, dentists regarded silver amalgam as the best choice, but that's changed in recent years. New fillings made of tooth-colored composite resin have begun to replace amalgam fillings as the filling material of choice.
Composite resin is a flexible, putty-like material made of powdered glass and plastic. Unlike silver amalgam, composite resin can be tinted to match the most common tooth shades. As a result, no one can tell you've had dental work. Although composite resin is soft initially, it becomes as tough as your tooth enamel when it's hardened with a curing light.
What advantages do tooth-colored fillings provide?
Tooth-colored fillings offer several important benefits, such as:
- Lower Risk of Cracks: The metals in silver amalgam fillings expand and contract when you eat or drink hot or cold foods and beverages. Daily contraction and expansion can stress your tooth enamel, eventually causing it to crack. A crack can increase your risk of both tooth decay and a fracture.
- Improved Strength: Composite resin bonds to the surface of your tooth, increasing its strength. Composite resin fillings also require less destruction of healthy tooth structure than silver amalgam fillings. Every time you have a filling at your Ringwood dentist's office, a certain amount of healthy structure around the decayed section must also be removed. This process protects your tooth from the effects of decay but also weakens it. Tooth-colored fillings help keep your teeth stronger because they only require removal of a small margin of healthy structure.
- No Darkening: Your tooth may look dark if you have a particularly large silver amalgam filling or may darken over the years if the silver amalgam begins to leak into your tooth enamel. A tooth-colored filling will never change the appearance of your tooth.
- A Mercury-Free Option: Silver amalgam fillings contain mercury, while composite resin fillings don't. Amalgam fillings aren't recommended for children under 6. Many adults also feel more comfortable avoiding the fillings.
Restore your smile with tooth-colored fillings. Call Ringwood, NJ, dentists Dr. Kahn and Dr. Pergolizzi at (973) 835-3900 to schedule an appointment.