Watching Your Silver Fillings
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Up until the late 1980’s, silver was the most used material for fillings. Dentists preferred these fillings, also known as amalgams, for their strength, ease of placement, and durability. For smaller cavities, tooth-colored fillings, known as composites, have replaced amalgams because they are more esthetic, and they can be placed with little tooth preparation.
Silver fillings DO contain mercury. There is no way around that fact. Scientists have been studying the effects of these mercury-containing fillings for over twenty years with mixed results. The long-term consequences, especially for those who grind their teeth, are still being investigated. Personally, I do not place any silver fillings because there are so many less controversial, more conservative, and more esthetic alternatives. Additionally, every time a dentist places a silver filling, more toxic mercury (at disposal or transport to a waste site) has a chance to pollute the environment. They can also stain healthy tooth structure (giving the appearance of a cavity). The silver can also permanently stain your gums and your cheeks with a nasty black or blue shade. Google ‘’amalgam tattoos’’ if you haven’t fallen asleep by the end of this article.
How strong are your silver fillings?
One of the biggest problems I see with silver fillings is that over time they don’t just fall out or wear out. They often take a large chunk of your tooth with it! Not getting too technical, the damage is because classic silver fillings are placed in a wedge shape to aid in their retention, and more tooth structure needs to be removed for bulk strength. This wedge shape creates tremendous stress on the tooth every time you bite.
CREATING A DEEP WEDGE FOR A SILVER FILLING CAN LEAD TO MAJOR PROBLEMS DOWN THE LINE
Over time, these deep fillings begin to ‘’leak’’ and flex, allowing bacteria to collect below the filling. Corrosion aids in weakening your tooth’s strength as well. Because silver is so dense, it is also hard to detect this deterioration with a classic X Ray. Silver shows up extremely opaque on X Rays often blocking large amounts of decay from showing up on film.
Before digital imaging (like CAD/CAM), new bonding techniques, and 3D printing, large silver fillings were replaced with dental crowns (tooth colored ‘’bonding’’ or ‘’resin’’ fillings are excellent for small cavities, which will be discussed in a future blog). Some fancier dentists (mainly USC grads ) were placing gold foils, ¾ gold crowns, gold inlays and onlays to conserve tooth structure. However, these technique-sensitive procedures took a few visits, the patient had to spend some time in a temporary, and a lot of gold was used. As you know, gold is expensive and not appealing for those looking for a more natural looking restoration.
DIGITAL IMAGE CAPTURED AFTER BROKEN SILVER FILLING WAS REMOVED AND BACTERIA UNDER THE FILLING WAS CLEANED OUT
Digital impressions and the instant ‘’printing’’ of porcelain inlays and onlays are some of the great advancements of modern dentistry. Using the latest digital technology and proven techniques, we can remove those pesky silver fillings and underlying decay, scan the tooth (with NO MESSY IMPRESSIONS!) with a camera wand, design, print and cement a beautiful tooth colored porcelain restoration all in a single appointment. Both of my offices are equipped with CAD/CAM technology and 3D printing. Modern adhesives allow us to bond porcelain ‘’partial crowns’’ to fill in the missing tooth structure. There is no need to shave down all of the sides and top of a tooth losing healthy tooth structure (which is the protocol for preparing a tooth for a crown) and risking the chance of a root canal (more on that in a later blog). Oh, and these Same Day Partial Crowns cost about half the price of a classic crown.
Save tooth structure, save yourself from multiple appointments, and save money!
COMPUTERIZED PROPOSAL OF A PARTIAL SAME DAY CROWN
If you have a ‘’leaking’’ or suspicious looking large silver filling please don’t just ‘’wait to see what happens’’. I have seen too many cracked fillings and teeth beyond repair that had to be extracted. If you have a silver filling that is over ten years old, please contact our offices via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call one of my offices for a FREE inspection of your old silver filling or fillings by Dr. Gabe by mentioning this blog!
Use the CODE word ‘’JITHIN’’ for a 25% DISCOUNT towards replacing your silver with a SAME DAY CROWN or Partial Crown with Dr. Gabe now through February 2014.