Did you know that silver amalgam fillings date back to the 1840s? Back then, it was discovered that dentists could create a paste out of silver and mercury and fill a cavity by pressing it into a tooth after drilling out the decay. When the substance hardened, the filling would last for many years. These fillings are technically called “amalgam,” but most people refer to them as “silver” fillings. Since amalgam fillings were the standard of care for well over 100 years, there is a good chance you have one in your mouth. Although, what you may not realize is that referring to them as “silver” fillings is a bit misleading because there is actually more mercury in them than silver—actually about fifty percent mercury.
A Mercury-free Dentist Who Prefers Composite Fillings
In the 1980s white composite filling material was improved to the point where it was strong enough to fill cavities on back teeth. This development was coupled with breakthroughs in bonding technology that permitted this white composite material to be successfully bonded to teeth. Many dentists have embraced this newer technique and prefer white composite fillings over the old amalgam fillings. Dr. Flax is one of the dentists that has mastered the skills required to place composite fillings, and he hasn’t used amalgam in his office for over 25 years.
Why Mercury-Free Fillings?
While the American Dental Association insists that amalgam fillings are safe, many people simply are not comfortable with having a toxic substance like mercury placed in their mouths, especially when there is an acceptable alternative. But there are many more benefits to using mercury-free fillings beyond the safety issue, including:
- Composite bonds directly to the tooth which actually improves the strength of the tooth.
- There is less drilling of the natural tooth required to place composite—more natural tooth structure is preserved.
- Less post-operative sensitivity is present with composite fillings.
- The bonding technology forms a seal. This provides protection to the tooth and helps to prevent further decay.
- White composite is a tooth-colored material, so it blends in and is much more aesthetically pleasing than amalgam fillings.
You can see an example of how amalgam fillings look compared to white fillings in the before and after images.