removing metal fillings

Do you have metal fillings and want a more natural-looking smile?

Amalgam or 'silver' fillings have been used by dentists to repair decayed or damaged teeth for over 150 years. Although strong and long-lasting, metal fillings have become less popular in recent years as tooth-coloured 'white' fillings have become widely available.

Metal fillings are considered safe and you don't need to replace them if you don't want to. But if you would prefer a whiter and more natural-looking smile, you can ask your dentist about amalgam removal.[1]

What are the risks of amalgam fillings?

Amalgam fillings contain a small amount of mercury, which makes some people worried about their health risks if the filling gets damaged. However, the level of free mercury in these fillings is very low and is not considered to pose a risk to human health. Amalgam removal is offered as an aesthetic choice for patients rather than a treatment for health reasons.[2]

Health authorities such as the Australian Dental Association (ADA) support the continued use of amalgam fillings for patients who prefer this option, but they recommend that certain people avoid these fillings. This includes children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and people with kidney disease who may be at higher risk of complications.[3]

What are the alternatives to metal fillings?

Metal amalgam fillings have declined in popularity over the past few decades as more people prefer the natural look of white fillings. If you choose to have a metal filling replaced, a different type of filling will need to be put in its place.

These can be made from different materials, depending on how much of the natural tooth remains and your price range.[1]

  • Composite resin is the most common material used in fillings today. Your dentist can choose a shade of resin that matches your natural tooth colour, so the filling will be difficult to distinguish.[1]
  • Glass-ionomer cement (GIC) is less durable than composite resin, so it's often used for teeth that are put under less pressure. This is commonly used for children's fillings, as it has properties that can help to prevent tooth decay.[1]
  • Porcelain (ceramic) fillings are a more expensive option, but they offer the greatest aesthetic benefit as the material has a very similar appearance to natural tooth enamel. Porcelain fillings, inlays and onlays need to be custom-made, which may require multiple visits.[1]
  • Dental crowns are an alternative to fillings that may be needed if a tooth has been more severely damaged or needs support. Crowns are porcelain caps placed over a tooth to restore its original appearance and function.[1]

How is amalgam removed?

Your dentist will make sure you understand the possible risks before you agree to amalgam filling removal. Dentists who offer this treatment need to follow strict protocols to ensure the safety of patients and the environment by removing and disposing of mercury safely.

A rubber dam is placed in the patient's mouth to prevent inhalation or ingestion of harmful substances during the procedure. Dentists use tungsten carbide dental burs to remove the filling, which reduces heat and vapours produced. After the tooth is cleaned and disinfected, the new filling can be placed.[2]

Talk to a dentist in Noosa

If you want to know more about white fillings or safe amalgam removal in Noosa, contact our team at Tewantin Dental Centre today. Call us on (07) 5447 1361 or book an appointment online.

References

[1] Australian Dental Association. Fillings [Online] 2017 [Accessed November 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Older-Adults-65/Fillings

[2] Better Health Channel. Dental fillings [Online] 2018 [Accessed November 2018] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/dental-fillings

[3] Healthdirect. Dental fillings [Online] 2017 [Accessed November 2018] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-fillings