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Replacing Silver Fillings

       I’ve had these silver fillings for years, why do I need to replace it if I am not in pain? These questions almost always come up when the topic of “old” dental fillings is discussed during dental exams. In this blog, this question will be answered. The information below will help you to understand why old silver fillings need to be replaced when pain isn’t present.

Take a look at amalgam fillings needing replacement

       

The need to replace old amalgam (silver) fillings depends on multiple factors:

  1. Silver fillings can hide decay - Because silver fillings are opaque to x-rays, it’s difficult to see a cavity under the filling until they are quite extensive. Decay can cause further damage if not treated appropriately. As bacteria finds a loophole to enter your oral system it would eventually increase and multiply at great pace before it can be stopped
  2. Leakage – As amalgam fillings breakdown, they will begin to pull away from the tooth. When there is no seal that is when fillings begin to “leak”. This process allows food, saliva, and bacteria to enter the tooth which can cause damage in the form of decay.
  3. Chipping or Cracking – Amalgam is composed of a mixture of silver, copper, tin and mercury. As we know, metals corrode over the time. Expansion and contraction can cause fractures in the tooth. A fractured tooth allows food debris and bacteria to get in and cause cavity in a filed tooth
  4. Clenching and grinding - Normal chewing puts substantial amount of force on teeth naturally. If you clench or grind your teeth this puts even more excessive force which cause silver fillings to breakdown faster.
  5. Aesthetics – Amalgam fillings does not mimic tooth color and often changes color from silver to black.

      Photo #1 – amalgam fillings removed.  

      

 Photo #2 – teeth prepared for dental crowns. The ideal situation for placing a filling is one where it's used to repair a relatively minor amount of tooth damage.  As you see, the damage to the teeth was significant.

     

 

Photo #3 - old amalgam filling were replaced with tooth colored dental crowns. The crown acts as a rigid splint that holds the tooth together.

       

 

 The best form of defense to these types of problems is keeping regularly scheduled dental check-ups.  It these appointments we can detect cracks, leaks, and cavities in filled teeth and treat the problem pro-actively.

For reference visit: www.fda.gov