Should I replace my silver amalgam fillings?


Are silver amalgam fillings safe or should they be replaced?

If you’re of a certain age, and had a filling due to a cavity when growing up, there’s a good chance it’s a silver amalgam filling. These are easy to spot when opening your mouth, due to the contrast of our white teeth and the silver metal filling. Some people have even questioned if these metal fillings are safe. Let’s take a look at what your options may be if you have amalgam fillings in your mouth.

What are amalgam fillings?

Amalgam is not a very common word. It simply means a combination of metals. Amalgam fillings are a mixture of copper, tin, silver, and liquid mercury that dentists use to repair and “fill in” teeth due to cavity damage.

When a tooth is damaged due to a cavity, a dentist will drill and remove the tooth decay and will use a dental filling to replace the exposed pocket in the tooth. Dentists used amalgam fillings for decades as it was the most common method of repairing cavities. Amalgam fillings are even still used today in certain situations.

Composite fillings are now more common than amalgam

Composite or resin fillings were first introduced in the 1980’s, although they began to be more common as they were improved in strength and durability during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Composite fillings are now the preferred method of filling a cavity due to it’s ease of application and the aesthetic benefits of blending with teeth more easily.

Composite fillings are synthetic resins or plastic like materials that dentists use to repair minor tooth damage, mainly with cavities. Most children and teenagers today have composite fillings instead of metal fillings, and you can hardly tell when someone has a composite filling in their mouth. They are the result of the continual process of advancement with oral care and technology.

Should you have silver fillings replaced with composite resin?

Some people have questioned the safety of amalgam fillings, mainly due to the presence of mercury. Although there has been some concern, the prevailing consensus of the FDA and CDC is that amalgam fillings are still a safe dental material. In fact, there have been no health disorders or illnesses linked to amalgam fillings.

However, there are some patients and even some dentists that may recommend replacing amalgam fillings. This can be for aesthetic purposes or if a filling needs replacement due to wear over time. While it may not be necessary from a safety perspective, it’s really not a difficult process to replace a filling if a patient chooses to. It really comes down to one’s own personal preference.

Do dental plans pay for composite fillings?

Most dental plans include benefits for fillings. There are still dental providers who use amalgam fillings for certain dental issues, but many prefer to use composite fillings. While the specific language can vary between dental carriers and plans, patients are typically able to receive composite fillings, even if a plan pays according to the price of an amalgam filling.

Your filling choice is up to you

If you still have some silver fillings in your mouth, you are not alone. There are millions of people with existing amalgam fillings, and this shows how well they have lasted over the years to preserve and protect teeth. But if you’re a little self conscious and prefer to remove the metal from your move, it’s perfectly alright to have them replaced with a newer composite resin filling. The main thing is to keep your teeth healthy and a smile on your face.

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