It’s probably true to say that nobody wants dark, silver fillings – especially if there are alternative materials available that not only provide a superior esthetic result but may actually be healthier for teeth. But what do you do if you already have silver fillings? Maybe they were placed when you were a young adult and you didn’t have much say in the type of material being used. Or you may have grown up in an era when silver fillings was the only material available – resulting in you now having to decide if it’s time to switch out this dark material.
It’s Not Just About Appearance
We are a super appearance crazed society – willing to have some pretty invasive procedures in an attempt to hold back the aging process and keep us looking (and feeling) young and vital. But focusing solely on appearance related treatments may prevent us from learning about the clinical reasons behind certain treatment recommendations – as a healthy mouth isn’t just represented by shiny white teeth but also involves the placement of materials that aid in preserving and protecting tooth structure. Knowing when it’s time to replace silver fillings may be less about how they look and more about how amalgam restorations can weaken teeth.
Are Silver Fillings Too Strong?
You may be thinking ‘what a crazy question – are silver fillings too strong’ – it does at first take seem contradictory but the reality is that the sheer strength of amalgam fillings can actually be the reason why teeth fracture and crack. Because amalgam restorations contain an amount of mercury these fillings are prone to expand and contract with varying oral temperatures. When a filling is placed within the walls of a tooth – this expansion can put tremendous force on the tooth – causing it to develop cracks and overtime increasing its risk of fracturing. Teeth that become increasingly sensitive but show no signs of decay often have deep cracks that make teeth hyper responsive to temperature and pressure.
Can Silver Fillings Hide Decay?
Maybe the greatest downfall to having silver fillings is the fact that they show as opaque on radiographs and can often hide the early signs of decay. As silver fillings age they don’t always ‘fit’ a tooth as well – meaning the margin of the filling may not be snug up against healthy tooth structure, resulting in an opening that allows bacteria to hide and multiply. It’s not uncommon for a silver filling to be removed and decay to be present at the base of the filling.