A filling is used to repair a tooth that is affected by decay, cracks, fractures, and so forth. In just one appointment, the decayed or otherwise affected portion of the tooth will be removed, and the remaining space will be cleaned and filled.
There are many types of filling materials available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. When choosing what material you would like, consulting with your dentist is strongly recommended. Composite fillings are white-colored and can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth. There are further options that are aesthetically suited for use in front teeth or the more visible areas of the teeth.
As with most dental restorations, white fillings are not permanent and may someday need replacement. However, they often last for many years, and provide you with a fully restored smile.
Until recently, dental amalgam was the only material used to restore decayed portions of your teeth, especially back teeth. Dental research has resulted in the development of new tooth colored materials that are not only durable and long lasting, but look great as well. These new materials are bonded directly to the tooth , restoring it to its natural strength and function.
Amalgam/ Silver Fillings
Silver amalgam is composed of 35% silver, 15% tin, and 50% Mercury. Amalgam has been used for decades, however, a number of dentists and other health professionals have expressed concerns over the safety of silver amalgam because mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal. The disadvantages to silver amalgam fillings are:
Silver fillings are less attractive than tooth-colored composite resin fillings, and consequently are not typically placed in teeth located near the front of your mouth.
The amalgam fillings expand and contract with heat and cold which can eventually cause the filling to crack or fracture your tooth, requiring a crown and further procedures.
Silver fillings will eventually corrode and leak, allowing bacteria in.
Amalgam fillings can fracture as they age, potentially breaking the protective seal and leading to decay.
The amalgam can cause unsightly dark and gray stains on teeth and gums.
Dangers of Amalgam
Dental amalgam contains 50% mercury which is just as toxic as lead, cadmium, or arsenic. Mercury leaves dental amalgam and passes through the blood stream throughout the lifetime of the filling. It is released by increase in temperature and friction. The amalgam filling will expand and contract with heat and cold and can act as a wedge in your tooth. This causes cracks and leaks in your tooth which allows bacteria to enter your tooth and cause decay. The Mercury in dental amalgam is transported through the blood freely into all the other organs of the body. It is mainly stored in the brain, kidneys, and lungs. Mercury is cytotoxic meaning that it kills cells. Mercury even crosses into the placenta and has been found in fetuses and breast milk. There is a direct link between the amount of mercury found in fetuses, newborns and infants to the amount of amalgam fillings in the mother’s mouth. Mercury has been proven to increase the number and severity of allergies and auto-immune diseases.
Lost a Filling
A common misconception is that a silver amalgam filling will last forever. Amalgam fillings are very durable, but eventually fail and need to be replaced. We consider a filling to be failing when it no longer seals out bacteria and allows bacteria to penetrate the inner aspect of the tooth. Time and wear, moisture in the mouth, and temperature changes are all causes that amalgam fillings fail. Amalgam fillings swell with the natural moisture in your mouth. This swelling can act as a wedge in your tooth, which can in turn cause fractures and the filling to fall out.