5 Reasons To Replace Your Old Metal Fillings

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closeup of molar with amalgam filling

If you are between the ages of 24 to 65, the chances are good that you have had a cavity. Another likelihood is that your filling was made of grey metal amalgam. At one point, metal fillings were your only option if you had a cavity that needed to be filled. If your silver fillings show when you smile or laugh, you’ve likely dreamed of having them replaced with tooth-colored composite fillings.

Could it be time for you to finally replace your metal fillings? Here are five reasons why you should!

Your Filling is Reaching the End of its Lifespan

An amalgam filling is packed into an area of your tooth, much like filling in a pothole, whereas a tooth-colored composite filling is bonded to your teeth. The lifespan of an amalgam filling is about ten years on average. Over time, these fillings will begin to wear away, exposing areas where bacteria can sneak in and start to cause tooth decay. When this happens, it will likely go unnoticed as it will not be something you can visually see.

If your filling wears out, allowing for decay to get into the tooth, you may end up needing to have a crown instead of having the filling replaced. To avoid this, have your fillings checked regularly by your dentist to see if they need to be replaced or if there are any leaks.

Amalgam Contains Mercury

While on-going research and debate continue regarding the potential dangers of amalgam, peace of mind may be a swaying factor in making the decision to have your fillings replaced. Around 50% of an amalgam filling is made up of mercury, which can potentially be a health risk to some patients.

For more information, click here to view the FDA’s official statement on amalgam fillings.

Temperature Changes May Be Causing You Issues

Metal expands and contracts with temperature changes. Since an amalgam filling is made up of around 50% mercury, which is a metal, it adjusts to the temperature changes in your mouth. When you drink something hot, the amalgam filling will expand and place a lot of increased pressure on your tooth. This expanding and contracting can eventually lead to cracks and fractures in your tooth. Similarly, when you eat something cold, such as ice cream, metal fillings contract, creating a gap around the filling and your tooth. This type of ongoing expansions and contractions are known to weaken your tooth over time.

Composite Fillings Strengthen Your Tooth

Tooth-colored composite fillings not only fill the cavity in your tooth, but they are also designed to bond directly to your tooth. The filling and the tooth then work together, not against each other, to strengthen the tooth. When a tooth with a filling gives under force, the amalgam does not because of its solid state. This creates an uneven distribution of force that can damage the non-filling areas of your tooth, creating cracks and fractures.

Composite Fillings Are More Visually Appealing

One of the most significant benefits to having your metal fillings replaced is that tooth-colored composite fillings can’t be seen. When you smile or laugh, amalgam fillings are noticeable and shows everyone that you have had a cavity (or two!) that needed to be repaired. Composite fillings are made to match the look of your teeth, meaning they are virtually invisible. No one will be able to detect the number of fillings you have had but you and your dentist.

Get Educated Before Making a Decision

Should you switch out your old amalgam fillings? That is a personal decision which comes down to how you feel about aesthetics, comfort, functionality and your peace of mind. If you are ready to say farewell to those silver spots in your smile, call Cherrywood Dental Associates today. We will examine your existing fillings and help you determine a replacement plan.


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Cherrywood Dental Associates- Woodbridge, VA
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Cherrywood Dental Associates- Woodbridge, VA
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