For many, many years, dental patients had only one choice when it came to dental filling material: silver amalgam. This extremely strong and durable material works well since it typically lasts for many years and holds up under the extreme pressure placed on a filling by chewing food. But there are some downsides to silver amalgam. First of all, the material is made up of more than just silver. In fact, amalgam consists of silver, tin, other metals and – most alarmingly of all – mercury. As most of us know, mercury is an extremely toxic substance when people are exposed to high doses of it. And although the amount of mercury in silver amalgam has never been shown to be harmful to dental patients, it’s easy to see why so many people prefer to avoid exposure altogether. And that is one of the most common reasons why so many people choose to have their amalgam fillings replaced by composite fillings. But there are other reasons why you might decide to have your silver amalgam fillings replaced:
- Composite fillings are made to closely match the shade of your natural teeth, which means that unlike amalgam fillings, composite fillings are barely noticeable at all.
- Silver amalgam fillings eventually turn dark – in fact, almost black – in color. Composite, on the other hand, never changes color.
- Composite filling material bond with your natural teeth. That means your dentist will need to remove less of your tooth for a composite filling and that the composite material actually strengthens the natural tooth that remains.
- Older amalgam fillings have a tendency to become loose, and that can result in decay forming under the filling.
If you have silver amalgam fillings and are wondering whether or not to have them replaced by composite fillings, talk to your dentist. Each dental patient is different, and the decision whether or not to remove existing fillings is decided on a case-by-case basis. If your existing silver fillings are relatively new and still holding up well, there may be no reason to have them replaced. But if you have older amalgam fillings, your dentist might advise you to have them replaced with composite material. Not only is composite natural-looking; it’s also extremely durable and typically lasts for many, many years. Best of all: composite contains absolutely no mercury whatsoever, so you never have to worry about any potential health side effects from your fillings.