Do you have an old metal filling that was put in years ago? If so, then you might want to consider replacing it with a composite filling the next time you visit your dentist. Metal fillings are made from an amalgamation of metals including silver, copper, tin, and mercury. Because of this, metal fillings are also commonly referred to as amalgam fillings. Although they were once extremely popular in dentistry because they are strong, affordable, and easy to place, more and more dentists are opting to place composite fillings instead.
Not only are more dentists electing to use composite fillings for their patients, but some dentists even recommend replacing an old amalgam filling with a new composite filling. This is simply because there are many benefits to replacing an outdated dental filling with a more advanced dental material such as composite resin. In fact, here are some of the reasons why you should replace metal fillings with composite:
Liquid mercury is mixed together with a powder made from tin, silver, and copper in order to act as a binding agent for these various metals. The use of mercury as a binding agent in metal fillings has been approved by the FDA as safe, with the exception of pregnant women, people with kidney problems, or those with pre-existing neurological conditions. This is because mercury is a bioaccumulative material, meaning that the body cannot eliminate it and it will collect over time.
Metal Changes Shape
Mercury is also one type of metal that changes its shape based on the temperature. Unfortunately, this also means that a metal filling can change its shape slightly depending on the things you eat and drink. For example, eating or drinking something hot can cause the filling to expand and put pressure on the surrounding tooth structure. On the other hand, when eating or drinking something cold, the filling can constrict and leave a gap between the filling and the natural tooth structure. In both cases, the natural tooth structure can become damaged.
Loss of Natural Tooth Structure
Not only do metal fillings potentially risk damaging your teeth, but they also slowly cause you to lose your natural tooth structure. This is because natural, healthy tooth structure must be removed to place a metal filling. When a metal filling has to be replaced, chances are more natural, healthy tooth structure will need to be removed. Overtime, this wears down your healthy tooth structure. This is not the case with a composite filling, since dental composite can bind directly to the tooth enamel.
Nowadays, we live in a visual society where appearance definitely matters. Because of this, most people want their dental work to blend in or have a natural appearance. Unfortunately, a dark grey metallic filling doesn’t exactly blend in with your ivory teeth. Instead, it will stick out and become extremely noticeable.
Stains the Teeth and Gums
Perhaps you could overlook a noticeable metal filling, especially if the tooth is towards the back of the mouth. However it is also important to realize that metal fillings can stain your teeth and gums. This is because when the protective coating rubs off, this allows the metal filling to corrode. As the metal corrodes, it causes your teeth to take on a blue, grey, or black tint in the areas around the filling. Not only that, but this staining can also affect the gums, causing something known as an amalgam tattoo.