At Clear Choice Dental, changing of dental fillings is something we do quite often for our patients who want a whiter, brighter smile.
Contrary to popular belief, the actual replacing or changing of a dental filling is actually quite easy to do. Patients will often ask if the whole filling has to come out (yes) and if it’s hard to do (no). There may be a few reasons why you might want to have your silver fillings changed or removed, so let’s look at why it would be necessary to do so.
- Poor aesthetics: This is one of the main reasons why people come to us for changing their silver fillings. Often patients with these fillings are embarrassed by the look of their teeth, as the silver makes them appear darker. Amalgam fillings can tarnish and corrode over time, creating discolouration where the filling meets the tooth. Replacing your silver filling with a tooth-coloured composite one will make the tooth appear more natural and aesthetically pleasing.
- Preventing decay: Silver fillings appear opaque in X-rays, making it difficult to see any cavities that may have been created underneath the filling. Once a cavity is found, it generally has progressed too far and a root canal may be necessary. Composite fillings appear much less opaque in X-rays, which helps in identifying and treating cavities quickly and more effectively. Because of its lighter colour, if there is an issue with the seal on a composite filling it will be easier to see with the naked eye, and can be investigated before a more serious issue arises.
- Weak teeth: Unlike composite fillings, silver ones don’t strengthen teeth. If you have a large silver filling and bite down, the force is transmitted to the remaining enamel and is likely to crack. In addition, the silver filling won’t actually adhere to the tooth unlike a composite one; a better adhesion means that the chewing force exerted upon the tooth is spread out more evenly, making composite fillings 15-20% stronger and less likely to crack than silver.
Some people worry about the mercury content in silver fillings, but research has shown that the amount of mercury exposure from a silver filling is actually less than the amount that most people are exposed to in their daily environment, or in what you would get from eating a piece of fish.
Despite all of those reasons, if your dentist has inspected your silver fillings and found them to be structurally sound with no chips or cavities, they may recommend that you keep them if you’re not worried about aesthetics. Amalgam fillings are much more affordable, they last a long time and they’re better for filling larger tooth cavities (composite is better for smaller cavities). Removing good amalgam fillings results in unnecessary loss of healthy parts of the tooth, so you should only replace amalgam fillings only when they are worn, broken or when there is decay beneath the filling.
By going for routine dental check-ups, it is possible to repair any fillings that may be broken, chipped or showing signs of decay. We cannot stress how important it is to come in to have your teeth checked twice a year – especially if you’ve got existing fillings or have poor dental hygiene habits.
If you would like to know if you should have your fillings changed, the best idea is to come and have one of our cosmetic dentists inspect your teeth.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, we encourage you to discuss these matters with an appropriately qualified health practitioner.