The Dangers of Old “Silver” Amalgam Fillings

Replace old silver fillings at Incredible SmilesDental fillings have long been used to restore the function, integrity, and morphology of teeth that have been damaged by decay, fracture and wear. Among these, “silver” amalgam fillings were once the go-to choice for treating cavities.

Silver amalgam fillings, comprising silver, tin, copper, and mercury, have a distinguished history in dentistry. Used for over a century, they’re durable, affordable, and easy to place.

However, as time passes, these fillings can age, corrode, shrink, or break, leading to discomfort, bacterial growth resulting in further tooth decay and mercury exposure. Silver fillings are also noticeable and can make people self-conscious about their smiles.

There is a growing recognition of the importance of not only examining and replacing old silver amalgam fillings but choosing fillings that blend seamlessly with natural teeth, enhancing the beauty of your smile.

The Anatomy of Silver Amalgam Fillings

Silver amalgam fillings contain a complex mix of metals, but are primarily composed of about 50% mercury. The rest is a blend of silver, tin, and copper. Mercury binds the other metals into a strong, durable compound that can withstand the extreme forces exerted when you chew or bite down. The filling material is packed into the prepared cavity in the tooth, where it hardens and forms a tight seal, preventing further decay. Despite their strength and longevity, concerns over mercury’s potential dental risks have led to the development of alternative materials for dental fillings.

The Impact of Corrosion and Decay on Dental Fillings

The longevity of your dental fillings affects your oral health significantly. When silver amalgam fillings age, they can corrode, shrink, or even break, leading to discomfort. These deteriorating conditions foster harmful bacteria, which can cause further tooth decay.

Understanding Corrosion

Metal-based fillings like silver amalgam interact continuously with saliva and food particles in your mouth. This interaction often leads to corrosion, just like metal rusts over time when exposed to moisture. In your mouth, this process can cause the fillings to change color, become rough, or even start cracking.

Recognizing Aging Fillings

Identifying the signs of aging fillings can be challenging. Here are a few indicators to look out for:

  •  Discomfort: You may experience discomfort or sensitivity in the filled tooth, occurring either when eating, drinking, or randomly throughout the day.
  •  Changing color: Fillings that were once silver might start to appear gray or even black, signaling corrosion.
  •  Roughness: If a previously smooth filling feels rough to your tongue, it might be corroding.
  •  Cracks: Visible or noticeable cracks on the filling are a clear indication that you need to visit your dentist.

Corrosion isn’t purely an aesthetic issue. It can alter the filling’s structure, creating tiny spaces between the filling and your tooth. These small crevices make an ideal refuge for bacteria. Once bacteria infiltrate these spaces, they can cause decay under the filling, which is often hard to detect until it’s advanced. This ‘hidden decay’ can escalate into severe dental problems if left untreated.

Dental professionals possess sophisticated methods and equipment to detect and handle such problems. Regular dental check-ups are your best defense against problems caused by aging fillings. If you notice any changes in your fillings or discomfort, schedule an appointment with your dentist. They can examine your fillings and provide suitable treatments to prevent further decay or damage.

Aesthetic Challenges of Dental Fillings

The appearance of dental fillings, though not as crucial as their functionality, is still important. Silver amalgam fillings, with their noticeable color, can mar the beauty of your smile. The visibility of these fillings can cause self-consciousness, particularly in social situations where you want to freely express joy and happiness. As the filling ages and interacts with foods and drinks, it may tarnish and darken even more.

Replacing Old Fillings: Your Options

Deciding to replace your old silver amalgam fillings can lead you to question what alternatives exist. Dental technology advancements have introduced safer, more aesthetically pleasing options. Many people prefer a natural-looking alternative to the distinct appearance of silver amalgam fillings. At Incredible Smiles, we provide several restorative options that not only restore tooth function but also blend seamlessly with your natural teeth.

Composite resin fillings are a blend of plastic and glass. Their color matches your natural teeth, making them almost invisible when you smile or talk. Their strength and durability are another advantage. Porcelain fillings, also known as inlays or onlays are custom-made to fit your tooth perfectly and can last over 20 years with the right care. Their natural appearance and resistance to staining make porcelain fillings an excellent choice for restoring your smile.

Tooth-colored composites and porcelain offer both strength and aesthetics. These materials mimic the color and translucency of natural teeth, allowing you to laugh, speak, and smile confidently. The fillings become almost invisible, granting you the freedom to express yourself without any inhibitions.

Dental Crowns

Replacing old silver fillings occasionally requires more than a simple new filling. In some cases, adding a crown may be the optimal solution to restore your tooth’s function and appearance. A dental crown, also known as a “cap”, encases the damaged tooth or filling. Crowns are made from materials such as porcelain, ceramic, or gold, and provide strength and protection. A crown is not merely a cosmetic solution; it also restores your tooth’s shape, size, and strength, enhancing your ability to chew and speak.

If decay has spread beyond the filling or the tooth structure around the filling is weak, a crown may be the optimal solution. Sometimes, old fillings may be too large for a direct replacement, and a crown can provide the necessary support for your tooth to function correctly.

Upgrade to a Bright, Healthy Smile with Incredible Smiles

Don’t allow old silver amalgam fillings to tarnish your health or your smile. Make the leap from to safer alternatives and build your wellness and self-confidence. Reach out to Incredible Smiles to explore how we can transform your smile and your life.

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