Should I replace my silver fillings?

Should I replace my silver fillings? 1If you grew up in the 1970s or 1980s, then as well as being exposed to thousands of hours of He-Man and My Little Pony cartoons, it’s also highly likely that you ended up with some silver fillings in your mouth. 

Today, many of our patients are choosing to replace their silver fillings, for both aesthetic and functional reasons. 

From a functional point of view, the silver-mercury amalgam concept for fillings was invented as long ago as 1860, and hasn’t changed much since. Large amalgam fillings can, over time, cause cracks in the teeth, which need to be treated with stronger white fillings (inlays or onlays) or even crowns. The internet is home to a thousand conspiracy theories, one of which is that amalgam fillings are unsafe, due to their mercury content. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this theory; mercury-containing silver fillings remain an approved material, and there is no reason to have your mercury-silver fillings removed due to toxicity concerns. On the other hand, there is no reason to be concerned about exposure to mercury during the removal of your silver fillings. High-speed suction and water irrigation are used when removing the fillings, to capture the debris, and exposure levels are typically 100 times lower than you would experience when eating a line- caught fish dish. 

From an aesthetic point of view, outside of pirate fancy dress evenings, flashing a ‘mouthful of silver’ is no longer considered desirable by many. Not only that, but if you have had several amalgam fillings, over time the silver can seep through the tooth enamel, which can leave your teeth looking dark and grey. 

The most common way to replace silver amalgam fillings is to use what are called composite fillings. These are made from a ‘composite’ of different materials, including resin, and are tooth-coloured. The composite is bonded to your teeth with a high-strength ‘glue’. 

The more modern composite fillings have been shown to last just as long as silver- mercury amalgam fillings, and in fact have something of a long-term advantage, in that a composite filling can often be repaired or extended in the future, whereas if something should go wrong in the case of a silver filling it will need to be drilled out and the entire filling replaced. 

But of course, the major advantage of composite fillings is their aesthetic superiority. Simply put, they’re unnoticeable. 

Our lead cosmetic dentist, Dr Nidhi Berera, is a firm believer in assisting patients to achieve the most natural and beautiful smile possible, since a confident smile creates confidence in the individual, which can lead to improvements in a person’s wellbeing that extend far beyond the aesthetic benefits. 

Nidhi would be delighted to welcome you into our state-of-the-art dental suite in the Inner West for a free assessment of your silver fillings, or any other dental and cosmetic dental enquiries you may have. Simply call our friendly receptionists at Dr Berera Dental on 1300 26 77 26 to make an appointment.