There was once a time when the only material offered to restore teeth was amalgam or silver fillings. First used in England and France in 1836, America placed its first silver filling in 1840. At the time, silver was considered the material of choice when it came to restoring cavities. But today, it’s rare to find a dental office that uses amalgam as a staple for restorative treatment. Developments in tooth coloured materials have enabled dentists to provide both a functional and aesthetic alternative that keeps smiles beautiful and mouths healthy.
What’s Wrong With Silver Fillings?
The fact that they’ve been used for hundreds of years might suggest that there are benefits that come from placing this material, and there are. Silver fillings have excellent strength, durability, and cost effectiveness. But like many cost effective materials, they frequently fail when it comes to bio-compatibility and beauty enhancement. The biocompatibility of silver fillings has long been in question due to its mercury content and the potential ongoing release of mercury vapors. There are articles suggesting a connection between amalgam fillings and Alzheimer’s and the possibility of general ill-health caused by mercury toxicity. However, no ruling has ever been made against the legal use of amalgam restorations.
Amalgam Restorations can Cause Cracks in Teeth
Surprisingly, the extreme strength and durability of silver fillings are actually problems aswell. Amalgam fillings are made to expand so that they can properly fill a cavity. Unfortunately, this property doesn’t go away once the filling is in your mouth. As the metal expands and contracts with changes in oral temperature, your tooth remains the same size. The expanded filling presses against the walls of your natural tooth, creating tremendous force and pressures that can crack and fracture the tooth. It’s not uncommon in this situation for a dentist to find the silver filling intact but no natural tooth structure around it – proving that amalgam may simply be too strong for the long-term health of a tooth.
Silver Fillings Aren’t Bonded to Teeth
Unlike the modern composite, or white, fillings that are bonded in place – literally attaching to tissue, amalgam restorations are not placed using a bonding technique. Silver fillings are placed by a series of undercuts being made in healthy tissue which allows the material to have something to latch onto and mold itself around. The lack of bonding can provide an opening for bacteria to enter and decay to form underneath the filling – damaging the tooth and further compromising the health of a smile.
Replacing silver fillings with a tooth coloured material helps to create a healthier, more attractive smile and addresses concerns surrounding cracks and openings for decay forming bacteria.
Been thinking of removing your silver fillings – not sure what the best material is for your bite? The Family Dentists at Ranchlands Dental are happy to provide treatment options that make you want to smile – call today 403.239.5212