The trend in dentistry is getting away from using silver/mercury fillings. While still an appropriate material to use in certain clinical situations it is not the best for the tooth is most applications. Many people still have silver/mercury fillings in their mouths from years past. These fillings are not particularly pleasing to the eye, and we know that by unavoidable design, silver/mercury fillings ultimately result in a weaker tooth structure. Porcelain inlays and Tooth Colored Restorations (onlays) create fillings that are not only beautiful (or unnoticeable) but also add strength to weakened teeth. These restorations are esthetically pleasing and very strong thanks to new bonding technologies.
Disadvantages of Silver fillings:
Silver fillings have many drawbacks. The edges of the silver filling will wear down and corrode become weak or break. This results in the tooth not being protected and lets cavities get started once again. With biting and age, the metal of a silver filling expands, contracts, and can eventually split the tooth much like water breaks plastic ice cube trays after several years.
Silver fillings can corrode, leak, and cause internal stains on your teeth and gums.That is the grey color you can see around certain teeth that have silver fillings in them.
This is a tooth that was lost as a result of a silver filling that cracked the tooth completely through the root. Fortunately we were able to successfully replace the tooth with an implant
Fortunately, silver fillings can safely be replaced with Tooth-Colored Restorations.
Advantages of Tooth-Colored Restorations
Tooth colored restorations can improve the esthetics of the teeth as well as decrease the risk of cracking teeth. The tooth colored filling does not spread out over time like the silver fillings therefore do not crack teeth. They are chemically adhered to the tooth with a technique sensitive process known as bonding. Done correctly, bonding is very strong and successful. It does have limitations however. Bonding cannot be done predictably on very large restorations. One must have very good home care to have resin fillings in the mouth as they tend to not react well to high acid and sugar diets.
Replacing Silver Fillings with a Tooth Colored Restoration
Silver fillings can be replaced in one appointment. The teeth are anesthetized and a rubber dam is applied which keeps the patient from swallowing the old mercury filling and allows the tooth to be dry while the resin restoration is placed. It is very important to maintain a very dry tooth when applying tooth colored restorations. Some special chemicals and bonding agents are employed and a specific wavelength light is used to set the restorations. The new restoration is then shaped and polished and you may eat on the tooth when the numbness leaves.