Dental technology and techniques have seen tremendous advancements over the years, and one of the most most impactful shifts has been the move from silver amalgam fillings to tooth-colored composite fillings. As patients and dentists become more aware of the benefits of composite fillings and the potential drawbacks of amalgam, the preference is clear. If you live near North Andover and are looking for a dentist to replace your silver fillings with composite ones, our dentists would be glad to help.
Understanding Silver Amalgam Fillings
Silver amalgam fillings have been a standard in dentistry for over 100 years, having been standardized in the 1920s. Comprising a mixture of silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury, amalgam fillings are known for their durability and longevity. However, they have some downsides that have prompted dental professionals and patients to seek alternatives.
Why the Move to Composite Fillings?
- Dental Aesthetics: Composite fillings, made from a tooth-colored resin material, blend seamlessly with the natural color of the teeth. This makes them virtually invisible, unlike the noticeable silver color of amalgam fillings.
- Less Tooth Removal: Preparing a tooth for a composite filling usually requires less removal of the healthy tooth structure compared to amalgam fillings. This means preserving more of the natural tooth.
- Strength Through Bonding: Composite fillings bond directly to the tooth structure, providing additional support. This, combined with removing less of the tooth structure results in stronger teeth that are less likely to crack.
- Mercury Concerns: While the FDA and other health organizations deem the levels of mercury in amalgam fillings safe for adults and children over the age of six, some patients still express concerns about mercury exposure. Composite fillings offer a mercury-free alternative.
The Impact of Silver Amalgam Fillings on Teeth
While amalgam fillings have served their purpose over the decades, there are certain impacts to consider:
- Tooth Fracture Risk: Amalgam fillings do not bond to the teeth; they simply sit in a prepared cavity. Over time, with the natural expansion and contraction of the filling due to temperature changes from food and drinks, micro-fractures can develop in the surrounding tooth structure. This can lead to larger cracks or fractures.
- Discoloration: Over time, amalgam fillings can cause a grayish hue to permeate the surrounding tooth structure, leading to aesthetic concerns.
- Tooth Decay Risk: Since the silver filling is not bonded directly to the tooth, there is a chance that bacteria can get underneath the filling and cause hidden tooth decay. This decay can be hard to spot since amalgam fillings can interfere with dental imaging.
The shift from silver amalgam fillings to composite fillings represents the dental industry’s commitment to evolving with dental technology and prioritizing patient health and satisfaction. While amalgam fillings have their place in dental history, the benefits of composite fillings, from aesthetics to functionality, make them a preferred choice for many. If you are interested in being part of this change and would like to replace your old silver filling with tooth-colored ones, the dentists at North Andover Dental Partners would be more than happy to help.