Do I need to replace my Silver/Mercury fillings?

Replacement of Silver Fillings: Should Amalgam Fillings be replaced?

Image of the Nebraska Family Dentistry banner asking "should mercury fillings be replaced?"

One of the newest trends we see in the community is the worry surrounding amalgam fillings. People are wondering about the “replacement of silver fillings near me in Lincoln, NE.” More specifically, the mercury content in silver fillings has many people rushing to their dentist for removal. It seems to make sense, “there is a toxic element in my body; let’s get rid of it!” But, is this really what is right for you and your health? At South Lincoln Family Dentistry, you health is our priority. In our article we’ll cover these topics:

Is replacement of silver fillings safe? Our South Lincoln Dentist explains.

Do all dentists use amalgam fillings? No, not all dentists use amalgam and we’ll tell you why!

Do mercury fillings cause health problems? We have the facts on Mercury.

Image of Biological Dentist Dr. Kathryn Alderman discussing replacement of silver fillings with a patient in Lincoln, NE.

Mercury: The Facts

Most of us have been taught to use extreme caution if a mercury thermometer breaks because of the toxicity. Our bodies have no use for mercury. Amalgam fillings are an alloy, which means they are a combination of metals that, when mixed, give greater strength. Amalgam is typically a mix of these common metals: Silver, Copper, Mercury, and Tin. Mercury is not an essential element that our body requires. Therefore, we should avoided it when possible.

Mercury fact about fillings

Leaking Mercury: Can that happen?

In short, the answer is yes; your silver fillings can leak mercury. Mercury vapor is given off from silver fillings. Therefore, Mercury can cause health issues if consumed in a high enough dose. The FDA has stated that a daily intake of .4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight is safe. It has been determined that the amount of mercury vapor released from an amalgam filling is significantly below the maximum amount set by the FDA. There are not currently any published studies showing how much mercury can be absorbed before adverse effects are shown. However, the WHO and the ADA (American Dental Associated) have deemed silver fillings as safe to continue to be used.

before and after fillings

The Big Question: Replacement of Silver fillings: Should I replace my amalgam fillings?

In short, probably not. A tooth with a filling that is healthy and structurally sounds should be left alone. We believe in treatment that is good for our patients’ overall health, but also the most conservative. Although we are a mercury-free dentist, we believe that a structurally sound amalgam should be left alone until there is a cause for concern. Every time we work on a tooth, it causes stress to the tooth. Ultimately, this can put you at higher risk for needing more extensive dental treatment. However, if the structural integrity of your tooth is in danger, we advise replacing the filling or covering the tooth with a crown (cap) to add strength.

We have had patients come in and request to have all of their silver fillings replaced. Ultimately we respect a patient’s desire for a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing filling option. We will gladly remove amalgam fillings if that is what our patient would like. We are confident that we can provide a better cosmetic dentistry solution that will look great and be a healthier option for your tooth.

Replacement of Silver Fillings: This Images Demonstrates Amalgam fillings that need replacement due to defects (see the arrows)

Replacement of silver fillings are necessary on this images because they edges of the filling have separated from the tooth. This can cause bacteria to enter eventually causing more problems.

The arrows indicate areas where the amalgam has defects. There are poor margins and chips that compromise the integrity. You should consider the replacement of these amalgam fillings.

Mercury-Free Dentists: Why we don’t use amalgam fillings in our office and the replacement of silver fillings is a good idea

One of the biggest differences between amalgam fillings and composite fillings is the bond that they have with the tooth. Amalgam does not bond to the tooth. Because there is no bond, that means that it does not add any additional strength to a tooth that decay has already weakened. After the removal of a cavity, in order for a silver filling to fit properly, we must remove healthy tooth structure. Because of the placement of amalgam within the tooth, and its tendency to expand and contract with changes in temperature, fractures, and cracks are extremely common.

Image of a tooth that had replacement of silver fillings. This filling is aesthetically pleasing and has a nice, white tooth-colored filling.

Composite fillings are the restorative option of choice in our office. We choose to use composite, white fillings instead of silver because we believe it is a better option for all of our patients. In addition to white fillings being aesthetically pleasing, composite fillings also bond directly to the surface of the tooth. Because of this bond, it means added strength with better margins. Ultimately, the removal of less tooth structure also means a flawless appearance. Also, a direct bond to the tooth means that only the decay must be removed before the placement of the filling. So, this ensures that the bulk of the healthy tooth structure stays intact. In addition, composite material does not react to temperature changes within the mouth, unlike amalgam. Ultimately, this means it will not expand and contract leading to fractures and cracks. When done correctly, composite fillings can easily outlast amalgam fillings.

Image of before and after replacement of silver fillings.

dr christine

The information on this page was written by Dr. Christine Bergman.

This gentle dentist in Lincoln, NE, says: “I am extremely privileged to be part of this amazing profession. I find there is nothing that is more rewarding than helping my patients learn how to care for their smiles in addition to becoming healthier overall. I feel patients deserve personalized dental care. Therefore, quality dental care is my number one goal. While providing top-notch dental care for you, I want your dental experience to be positive and comfortable.

You can schedule with this Lincoln, NE dentist, or her partners, online 24/7 at a South Lincoln Family Dentistry location near you. This “dentist near me” serves the local communities close to Lincoln. Some of the communities include Roca, Bennet, Firth, Crete, and Hickman!