Traditional amalgam fillings had changed very little since their conception more than 200 years ago. They are still in use today, as they are practical, durable and cost-effective. However, their aesthetics do not match their functionality, and amalgam tends to darken from silver to black over time.
Furthermore, the lead and mercury content, especially in older amalgam fillings, can be a health concern. For these reasons, many patients are opting for amalgam fillings removal at Glow Dental
Amalgam Removal – What’s Involved?
The process involves removing the old amalgam filling, checking the health of the tooth and replacing the filling with a more modern and aesthetic alternative.
For those who are concerned about potential health risks associated with mercury fillings or the lead in older amalgam, the removal process is critically important.
Research suggests that if the old filling is not removed correctly, the removal process puts you at higher risk from the lead or mercury than just leaving the filling in situ. At Glow Dental, we have specialised procedures in place to ensure you are protected from whatever materials were used in your old amalgam filling.
Why Have Your Amalgam Fillings Replaced?
Aesthetics and health concerns relating to lead or mercury are two reasons you might choose to replace amalgam fillings with a safe alternative that is practically invisible. But sometimes replacing mercury fillings is necessary for the simple reason that the filling is old and starting to fail.
Although amalgam fillings have good durability, over time, they can become cracked, loose or brittle. Chances are, an old filling has reached the end of its life and will need to be replaced.
Alternatives to Amalgam Fillings
With the old amalgam removed, there are a few choices open to you regarding the replacement filling. The most popular is composite resin, sometimes known as a “white filling.”
As the name implies, this filling is practically invisible – in fact, it will be colour matched to your tooth and can transform your smile. The other benefit with composite is that it strengthens the tooth itself by binding it together. It is common for an old amalgam filling to cause cracks to form in the surrounding tooth over time. The composite alternative will restore and strengthen, as well as looking great.
The only real downside to composite is that it is not quite as durable as amalgam so might not last so long. With back teeth, where filling strength is paramount, you might consider dental crowns, which can be metal-free with porcelain or zirconia.
These are extremely strong; in fact, they are even more durable than amalgam. They are individually tailor-made for each tooth, meaning a perfect fit.
Traditionalists or those who want to make a feature of their fillings can even choose gold. As well as giving a whole new kind of shine to your smile, gold fillings are practical, as this is a highly durable metal. Like the non-metal options, they are an excellent choice for molars towards the back of the mouth.
The only downside to gold fillings, aside from the cost, is that they can lead to sensitivity. This is because gold is such an efficient conductor of both heat and cold.
Common Questions For Amalgam Filling Removals & Replacements
Old fillings need to be removed and replaced if they become chipped and loose, or if cracking is observed in the surrounding structure of the tooth. However, even if the filling is still in fair condition, you might choose to have an old black filling replaced for aesthetic reasons. Some people also decide to replace their amalgam fillings if they are uncomfortable about the lead or mercury that might be present.
Not necessarily. Your dentist will advise replacement if the old filling is no longer sound or the surrounding tooth structure shows signs of additional damage or decay. Beyond that, it is up to you whether you want to replace amalgam fillings with a more modern alternative that is colour matched and metal-free.
Not at all. You will be given a local anaesthetic, so the procedure is entirely painless. After the filling has been replaced, you might feel some soreness and sensitivity for a day or two, but this will not be severe and can be easily managed with over the counter pain medication.
More than 80 per cent of adults have one or more fillings. The best way to maximise your odds of being in the 20 per cent minority is to take great care of your teeth. That means brushing and flossing every day, and visiting the dentist and hygienist every six months, or when recommended. Fillings become necessary when the tooth decays.
Tooth decay is less likely to come about when you follow an excellent oral hygiene routine. It’s still not a guarantee that you’ll never need a filling, but it certainly improves your chances.