5 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Amalgam Fillings Replaced
If you are more than a few decades old, it is likely that your fillings are made of mercury amalgam. For a long time, amalgam fillings were one of the only options for dentists to use. Since that time, there have been advances in dental materials and techniques leading to composite fillings, which are today preferred by many for their tooth-like appearance and material properties. With a lifespan of 10-15 years, amalgam fillings need to be replaced eventually. Learn more about the reasons why you might want to get your amalgam fillings replaced with their composite alternative.
1. Your Amalgam Fillings Show Wear or Decay
If your amalgam fillings are coming loose, it is likely that bacteria can get in around them to your teeth. If you are experiencing looseness, it is important that you get your amalgam fillings replaced as soon as possible, especially if you can see visible decay. If this decay is allowed to continue, the bacteria may get down to the roots of your teeth and you may need a root canal rather than a filling. Teeth sensitivity is a good indicator that this is occurring. It is especially important that you visit your dentist if you are experiencing sensitivity.
2. You Have Had Issues With Amalgam Fillings
Amalgam fillings are not bonded to your teeth, they are packed in to fill the empty space. Because of this, amalgam fillings do not actually add any additional strength to the tooth structure itself, and they can act like a wedge. When the pressure of chewing is applied to your teeth, any amalgam fillings you have can cause your teeth to chip, crack, or break. In addition, because amalgam fillings are made of metal, they expand and contract when you eat hot and cold food respectively. These movements can cause teeth to fracture or the filling to loosen, creating gaps for bacteria to get in. On the contrary, composite fillings bond to teeth, strengthing them by distributing the chewing force over the teeth and providing extra resistance to the tooth structure itself. If you have experienced any of the above-mentioned issues with your amalgam fillings, it might be a good idea to get them replaced. Be sure to discuss your experiences and your options with your dentist.
3. You Are Concerned About the Mercury in Amalgam Fillings
Some patients are concerned about the mercury in amalgam fillings due to allergy, sensitivity, or potential health risks. Amalgam fillings are 50% liquid, elemental mercury and 50% a mixture of silver, tin, and copper powder to form an alloy. This alloy acts like a putty that the dentist mixes on the spot then manipulates to fill the holes in your teeth. The alloy hardens quickly. Once hard, amalgam fillings release low levels of mercury in the form of vapors over their lifetime. The levels of mercury vapors released by amalgam fillings are not high enough to pose a risk to your health. Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have marked amalgam fillings safe for use in dental practice. That said, studies have shown changes in the health complaints of patients who have had their amalgam fillings removed, though the exact reasons for these results have yet to be determined. If you are concerned about the mercury in amalgam fillings, discuss your concerns with your dentist.
4. You Prefer the Aesthetics of Composite Fillings
Amalgam fillings are silver-colored and can be seen whenever you smile or laugh. Composite fillings have been specially designed to be tooth-colored and practically invisible to onlookers. If you do not like the appearance of your amalgam fillings, getting them replaced for composite fillings may be right for you, just be sure to discuss your situation with your dentist.
5. You Are Comfortable With Frequent Replacements
Whereas amalgam fillings last 10-15 years, composite fillings only last 5-10, requiring more frequent replacements. Amalgam is much stronger than composite and it is also much cheaper than composite to replace. If you are comfortable with more frequent replacements for the aesthetics or peace of mind of composite fillings, discuss replacing your amalgam fillings with your dentist. Be aware that composite fillings can only be used for small to medium restorations because they are not as strong as amalgam fillings.
In conclusion, it is of the utmost importance that you get your amalgam fillings replaced if they are coming loose or if decay is occurring around them. Another strong reason to get amalgam fillings replaced is if you have had issues with them in the past. All other reasons are based on your preferences, if you are concerned about the mercury in amalgam fillings or if you prefer the aesthetics of composite. If you would like to get your amalgam fillings replaced for any of the reasons listed above, schedule an appointment to discuss your options with Dr. Owen Mandanas! Dr. Owen Mandanas is trained in the safe removal of mercury amalgam and would be happy to speak with you.