Silver fillings have long been used to treat cavities. Made from an amalgam of tin, silver, mercury, copper, and zinc, these restorations have been placed since the 1800s and are still in use today. Over the years, some concerns have emerged regarding the safety of mercury fillings. Because it is known to be toxic to humans in sufficient quantities, many individuals choose to have their old fillings removed.
At our Lake Mary, FL, practice, dentist Steven Hochfelder performs mercury filling removal and replaces these old restorations with tooth-colored composite fillings. Learn more about the process in this blog post.
Why put mercury in dental fillings, to begin with? When added to the other elements, mercury helps make the filling material more flexible so your dentist can shape it easily. Additionally, once mercury fillings are hardened, they can withstand significant biting and chewing forces.
Is Mercury Hazardous to Your Health?
There are a few different types of mercury: elemental, inorganic, and methylmercury. Elemental mercury, the type found in amalgam fillings, releases mercury vapors and is toxic to humans when ingested in large quantities. Though there have been a number of research studies conducted on the topic, the FDA approved amalgam fillings in 2017 and deemed them safe for use in adults and children over the age of six.
Reasons for Removing Amalgam Fillings
Individuals may wish to remove their silver amalgam fillings for several different reasons. For example, mercury filling removal eliminates the possibility of prolonged exposure. It also helps give patients peace of mind, especially those who are concerned about mercury poisoning.
Furthermore, amalgam fillings are silver in color. These restorations do not blend in with the surrounding tooth structure and are quite noticeable when you smile.
Conversely, composite fillings are color-matched to your natural teeth for natural results. They are also gentler on the teeth, as amalgam fillings expand and contract when temperatures change, which can cause cracks and other types of damage.
How Does Mercury Filling Removal Work?
Your Lake Mary dentist uses advanced methods to ensure that your amalgam fillings are removed safely. The primary goal is to keep the tooth as cool as possible during treatment. To achieve this, cool water and powerful suction are utilized. Your old fillings will likely be sectioned and removed in pieces. This helps minimize the amount of mercury vapor released during the process.
Next, your dentist must fill the void left behind by the filling removal. In most cases, this can be accomplished by placing a composite resin filling. Sometimes, however, your dentist may recommend a larger restoration, such as an inlay, onlay, or crown. During a consultation at our practice, Dr. Hochfelder can go over all of your treatment options with you in detail.
Contact Our Practice to Learn More
If you have old mercury fillings and are considering removing them, schedule a consultation with Dr. Hochfelder at our Lake Mary practice. We offer a wide range of preventative, restorative, and cosmetic procedures for your oral health needs. Contact us online anytime or call our office at (407) 321-8900.