‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ is a saying that can be applied to many life situations – but when it comes to replacing dental restorations does it apply? When we talk about silver fillings (amalgam restorations) most people express their concern with the lack of esthetics this choice of filling provides, but there are other reasons to be taken in to consideration when removing amalgam that reach far beyond esthetics.
What is a Silver Filling Made Of?
Silver fillings are made from a mixture of metals – mercury, silver, copper, tin and other trace materials – that form an alloy that is used in certain dental procedures. Over the past twenty years there has been mixed reports about amalgam use due to the mercury content and potential adverse health risks. You can research both sides of the argument to discover that though silver fillings are incredibly strong and durable, they may pose a health risk due to mercury vapors being released from the fillings during normal chewing. But aside from esthetics and possible health scares there are some viable reasons for replacing silver fillings.
Can a Silver Filling Weaken Tooth Structure?
Unlike white fillings that are bonded to tooth structure, amalgam restorations (silver fillings) are not, and can in fact weaken tooth structure by causing cracks and fracturing. Thanks to its mercury content an amalgam filling is able to expand and contract – and can push against the sides of a tooth, causing stress cracks and fractures. When we mentioned that silver fillings are strong and durable we were referring to their ability to outlast a tooth. When a tooth fractures it’s common to see the amalgam restoration still in place with the surrounding tooth structure missing. So though they can provide longevity – it’s usually at the cost of healthy enamel.
Are White Fillings a Better Choice?
If your silver fillings are showing signs of wear-and-tear then you may want to start thinking about replacing them with a material that strengthens a tooth. White fillings or composite restorations not only offer an esthetic solution but can help reinforce the strength of a tooth due to the manner of placement. Bonded in to place; white fillings act as a reinforcement and can make a tooth more resistant to decay. Another advantage of white fillings is that they can be used to enhance the shape and size of a tooth without committing to the permanency of a dental crown.
Family Dentists at Centennial Smiles Dental in Downtown Calgary welcome enquiries regarding smile restoration options – call today to discover just how easy it is to have the smile you’ve always wanted.