Question: Can I replace my silver fillings with white ones?
Answer: The short answer is YES, the longer answer is… well it depends on the situation.
“Silver Fillings” are what we in the dental world call Amalgams, which have gotten a lot of bad press in the media lately due to its’ mercury content. In addition to mercury, an amalgam is made up of mixture of different metals including silver, tin, copper, and zinc. Many people now want to remove these silver fillings as a result of mass media hysteria linking them to multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s. The truth is the literature does not support these claims and your putting yourself at higher risk of mercury toxicity by just eating one can of tuna a day! Not to mention, the type of mercury found in tuna stays in the body for longer than the kind found in silver fillings. Watch the video below and I think you’ll be shocked by the results: Mercury Toxicity: Silver Fillings vs Tuna
“Silver fillings” were the gold standard in dentistry for many years due to their durability. I’ve seen many patients in their 40s or 50s with amalgams in their mouth since childhood. You just don’t see that happening with the white fillings, which often need more frequent replacements. Replacement of a large silver filling can often lead to nerve irritation and puts the tooth at risk of needing a root canal… Yikes! Often times we may be able to remove the portion of the silver that that shows when you smile and keep the deepest portion of the silver filling intact to reduce nerve damage. If the tooth has a cavity or if the silver filling broke, then now is a great time to replace it with a white filling. White fillings aka composites (sorry to bore you with the dental jargon) blend in nicely with the tooth structure and actually bond to the tooth structure, unlike silver fillings, causing you less sensitivity. Over time, they tend to stain and wear creating little micro-gaps between the filling and natural tooth structure where debris and bacteria can get lodged which leads to cavities underneath your current fillings.
Fillings don’t last forever, but thats the beauty of 6 month checkups and periodic radiographs.
The long answer: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Heres what our friends at the American Dental Association have to say about this: ADA comment on safety of dental amalgams