- January 20, 2020
Cavities happen. Even with careful oral hygiene and regular cleanings, tooth decay can destroy part of a tooth leaving behind a hole – or cavity – that needs to be filled.
Most fillings done before the 2010s used a silver amalgam material, which is still available for use on the market. Today, most dentists use a composite resin material to create fillings. Over time, the performance and appearance options of composite resin has evolved, making it a much more popular choice.
PLEASE NOTE: At Shorewood Family Dental Care, we still do apply amalgam fillings for children’s teeth at times when we feel it is the optimal solution. The strength of dental bonding comes from the enamel layer which is much thinner on children’s teeth, the bond strength to dentin is much weaker. In these cases, we apply amalgam fillings instead of composite resin. In addition, there are certain cases where we also feel an amalgam filling is the better solution for an elderly patient, such as areas that are harder to access.
About half of amalgam used for dentistry is made from mercury. The other materials used are other metals such as silver and tin. We know that mercury is an environmental hazard and has been linked to medical conditions such as kidney and brain damage, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
So, is removing silver fillings and replacing them with composite resin a good idea?
Levels Of Mercury
No mainstream dental organization recommends replacing or removing silver fillings that are currently in good condition. Research studies find that there is no evidence the amount of mercury vapor released from amalgam fillings is harmful to people over the age of six.
We are exposed to mercury through environmental contact through food, water and air. The amount of mercury vapor that might emit from an amalgam filling is minuscule, actually less than what we take in from the previously mentioned sources. Amalgam also hardens quickly so it’s a good choice for areas below the gum line that are hard to keep dry.
Removing Silver Fillings Only When Necessary
There’s no medical reason for removing silver filling as a precautionary measure. The average life of a filling is about ten years. If your dentist tells you it’s time to replace a filling, composite resins may be a good choice. The material comes in a variety of shades from which you can select the best one to match your natural tooth enamel.
How long does it take to replace a filling? The process itself doesn’t take that long, but only if you are proactive about the situation. Monitoring the health of fillings is part of the screening dental professionals conduct during your twice-yearly exams.
If you’re looking for a general dentist near Joliet, call Shorewood Family Dental Care at 815-725-5991 or book an appointment online.