Cavities can affect anyone, at any age — and they do. In fact, a whopping 92% of American adults have had at least one cavity.
And a good many of those cavities have been treated with amalgam fillings, which are fillings that consist of a variety of metals. This is because historically, amalgam fillings were the restoration of choice, especially for large back molars.
While metal fillings can be effective in repairing cavities, they do have some drawbacks. At Novi Family Dentistry in Novi, Michigan, Abir Faraj, DDS, helps patients get rid of unattractive metal fillings by replacing them with durable, tooth-colored, metal-free fillings.
If you have metal fillings, here’s why you might want to consider replacing them with metal-free alternatives.
Metal fillings have been around for a long time. In fact, the earliest record of amalgam fillings dates from a Chinese text from 659 AD! And while metal fillings have changed since those very early days, the materials used today are surprisingly similar to those used hundreds of years ago — a combination of mercury, silver, and tin. Today’s metal fillings also add in zinc and some other materials.
The main reason why metal fillings have persisted is because they’re very effective in restoring teeth damaged by decay. The combination of metals is durable, able to withstand the heavy stresses of regular biting and chewing. Plus, these fillings bond well with natural tooth material, helping prevent additional decay in the future.
Metal fillings are bright and shiny when they’re first applied. But it doesn’t take long before the air and the chemicals in your saliva cause those fillings to darken until they look almost black. Although a metal filling can improve the integrity of your tooth structure, it can also detract from the way your smile looks.
That’s the first disadvantage of metal fillings. The second big downside involves the metal combination used in metal fillings.
Just like the fillings from centuries ago, today’s fillings use mercury, a heavy metal that’s toxic to people. While a sound, undamaged filling may pose little danger to your health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does note that some people may be more susceptible to adverse effects, including:
Many people who don’t fall into one of these groups still opt to have their old metal fillings replaced with new metal-free restorations to eliminate the possible dangers of mercury. Today, there are several options for replacing old metal fillings, and recent advances have made these newer restorations even stronger than before.
Porcelain and ceramic composites are popular with many patients who want to get rid of their metal fillings. The first and most obvious benefit: These restorations don’t contain mercury or any other metal that could cause health concerns.
But one of the biggest benefits of metal-free restorations is their ability to be custom-tinted to match the surrounding teeth. The result: Your restoration will blend in beautifully, enhancing your smile instead of detracting from it.
A couple more benefits: Metal-free restorations can be expertly shaped to maintain the natural contours of your tooth. Plus, nonmetal materials won’t increase your tooth sensitivity the way mercury fillings can.
Metal-free restorations can be a great choice if you need a new filling, but they can also be used to replace existing fillings. To learn how metal-free restorations can protect your teeth and transform your smile, book an appointment online or over the phone with Novi Family Dentistry today.