Tooth decay is a major nuisance; even if you practice good oral hygiene, your teeth are still vulnerable to its ravaging effects! Luckily, restorative solutions such as metal dental fillings are a great way to assist those damaged teeth and protect them from further harm. But if you’ve received these fillings in the past, did you know that replacing them with metal-free fillings might actually be in your best interest? Here’s more from your dentist about why metal fillings in Scripps Ranch can sometimes be problematic and what you can do to replace them.
Why Are Metal Fillings Problematic?
Older dental fillings are typically composed of dental amalgam, which is a mixture of metals such as silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury. Variations of this blend have been used in dentistry for over a century, and it’s still quite common today. It’s often referred to as a silver tooth filling because of the color!
Even though dental amalgam fillings are undeniably effective at replacing your enamel where it’s been destroyed, research has uncovered quite a few reasons for them being problematic for your oral well-being:
- They’re easily visible and create dark spots in your smile.
- In order to place them, a small amount of your tooth’s enamel layer usually must be removed.
- Once they’re placed, the metal can sometimes expand or contract when exposed to extreme temperatures. This can cause hypersensitivity and even possible fracturing in the tooth.
- Some amalgam fillings contain trace amounts of mercury, which we now know is potentially dangerous to the internal organs. Studies show that having 8 or more mercury amalgam fillings can increase the mercury levels in your blood by up to 150%! Even though this bioaccumulation is still being researched, studies suggest that this mercury exposure might be associated with many maladies including neurological disease, multiple sclerosis, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
- Some patients also experience allergic reactions to certain materials found in amalgam fillings, which can cause oral sores, lesions, or other painful issues.
What’s a Better Alternative to Metal Fillings?
The American Dental Association, one of the most trusted among all professional dental organizations, has stated that metal amalgam fillings are still technically safe for both children and adult patients. That said, you might be wondering if there are other, mercury-free options that you can consider.
Tooth-colored fillings have become a very popular solution that offer the same, if not improved, qualities of metal fillings with none of the associated risks. These fillings are made of a composite resin material that’s ideal for restorative purposes, thanks to their durability coupled with their natural-looking color. The material is also inexpensive and easy to manipulate, and it doesn’t dissolve when in contact with liquid.
While dental amalgam fillings are still a little more durable and ideal in certain scenarios (like when the patient needs a larger posterior filling), resin-based material is beautiful, resilient, and becoming increasingly popular among patients who need fillings. If you’re ready to upgrade your metal fillings, speak with your dentist about receiving ones made with resin-based materials.
About the Author
Dr. Greg Friedman has proudly served patients and families in the San Diego area for several years. Dr. Friedman received his dental doctorate from the Washington University School of Dental Medicine and is an active member of several professional organizations including the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. If you have any questions about replacing your metal fillings, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Friedman through his website or over the phone for assistance: (858) 547-0070.