Back in the old days of dentistry, metal fillings were the most effective solution for cavities. Also known as amalgams, metal fillings are either black or silver and they are made of a combination of mercury, silver and tin. This combination has been in use by dentists as early as 1904. Amalgam fillings used to be very popular due to their strength, durability and easy application.
However, in recent years many dentists have expressed concerns over amalgam fillings due to the presence of mercury in their composition as well as their overall effectiveness. Nowadays, quite a few dental practices, including PS Dental Care in Soho, replace amalgam fillings with other restorative white materials like resin-bonded fillings and indirect ceramic restorations.
Facts About Mercury
Generally, mercury is a very toxic element that should be avoided when pure. However, silver fillings are a combination of many metals mixed together to form an alloy. In 2015, the FDA reviewed the best available scientific evidence to determine whether the low levels of mercury found in dental amalgam fillings are a cause for concern. Based on associated evidence, they concluded that amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children aged six and above.
Similarly, the World Health Organisation states that: “No controlled studies have been published demonstrating systemic adverse effects from amalgam restorations.” Finally, The American Dental Association defends amalgam fillings as a safe, affordable and durable material.
Replacing Amalgam Fillings
Although amalgam fillings do not pose a direct health threat, clinical experience has shown that white fillings distribute bite pressure more evenly compared to their metal counterparts. For these reasons, patients choose to replace their amalgam fillings for white fillings. As dental technology has evolved, white fillings have largely replaced amalgam fillings. This is because white fillings offer a better, less invasive, and more aesthetic treatment. Composite fillings only replace the parts of teeth that have been damaged without sacrificing healthy enamel. Additionally, composite fillings are bonded to the teeth offering maximum strength and protection.
Another important reason for replacing amalgam fillings are signs of decay, chipping, cracking, or loosening. In these cases, a dentist will carefully remove the filling, clean the tooth and the decay and cover the tooth enamel with a white composite filling.