When decay has destroyed less than about 50% of the chewing or biting surface of the tooth, we can usually place a filling.
For many years, mercury/silver amalgam filling materials have been the standard filling material for back teeth. We no longer use mercury/silver amalgam materials for a variety of reasons.
Tooth colored plastic filling materials are as good as or better than amalgam by all measures. Tooth colored fillings look better, are bonded to the tooth structure so they provide a measure of support and strength for the restored tooth and last about as long. Tooth colored fillings are often smaller and more conservative than silver fillings. This helps preserve good tooth structure. The downsides to tooth colored fillings are greater dental skill level, slightly longer time needed for placement, and a higher cost due to materials and time factors. You can expect tooth colored filling to cost 25-50% more than a comparable mercury/silver filling.
We were one of the first users of Air Abrasion (sand blaster) in Oklahoma and now are on our second unit! The first Air Abrasion unit wore out due to it’s popularity with our patients! Our patients found the majority of their new fillings could be done without a shot and the drill.
Why We Don’t Use Any Mercury/Silver Fillings
Silver-Mercury fillings have been the filling material of choice of most dentists for many years. Many dentists still do provide this filling material. We no longer provide this material for several reasons:
- Silver-Mercury fillings are ugly. They turn teeth black once
they’ve been in a tooth for some time.
- Silver-Mercury fillings expand and crack teeth resulting in the need for
expensive root canal and/or crown treatment. We are not zealots about
removal of these fillings for health reasons. Rather, we feel that
there are superior restorative choices available.
- A number of European countries have either banned or have a timetable for
banning silver-mercury fillings due to their concerns over mercury release
from these fillings. Studies have shown that a silver-mercury filling
which is 50% mercury, has no more mercury left after 20 years. Since
mercury is such a deadly toxin, many people are concerned about this release
of mercury from their fillings.
- A major manufacturer of silver-mercury fillings, the Caulk company, has
recently begun cautioning against placement of silver-mercury fillings in
pregnant and nursing mothers, children under the age of 7, and people with