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.
Tooth-colored fillings offer important benefits, whether you need a new filling or must replace an old one. Dentists Dr. Paul Gibberman, Dr. Lauren Gibberman and Dr. Maria Hodas, who practice family dentistry in Alexandria, VA, discuss several unique advantages of tooth-colored fillings.
What are tooth-colored fillings?
Silver amalgam fillings draw attention to your dental work, while tooth-colored fillings are designed to blend in with your teeth. The fillings are made of composite resin, a material that's tinted to match common tooth shades. Although early composite resin fillings didn't hold up so well in back teeth, the fillings are much more durable today and can be used to restore any tooth affected by decay.
Tooth-colored fillings make filled teeth stronger
Removing part of your tooth, even if the step is absolutely necessary to remove tooth decay, weakens the structure. Weaker teeth are more likely to break or crack, which can result in the need for more extensive dental procedures in the future. Unlike silver amalgam fillings, tooth-colored fillings bond to your teeth and help strengthen them.
Tooth-colored fillings also help you avoid cracks that can occur eventually if you have silver amalgam fillings. The metals in amalgam fillings expand and contract when they're exposed to hot and cold temperatures. Over time, constant expansion and contraction can stress your tooth and cause it to crack. Cracks increase the risk of fracture and may provide a convenient entry point for bacteria. Because composite resin fillings are made of powdered glass and resin, they don't react to changing temperatures.
Color changes aren't a problem with composite resin fillings
Large silver amalgam fillings can be visible underneath your tooth enamel, making your tooth look darker. When your filling is tinted to match your tooth color, there are no visible changes to your tooth.
Tooth-colored fillings restore your teeth without changing their appearance. If you're concerned about a toothache, schedule a visit with the family dentistry team at Gibberman Dental in Alexandria, VA. Call Dr. Paul Gibberman, Dr. Lauren Gibberman and Dr. Maria Hodas at (703) 823-6616 to make an appointment.