Metal fillings are somewhat controversial these days. While they’re safe and FDA-approved, dental amalgam (the technical name for metal fillings) does contain mercury. Many people are concerned about the possible effects of mercury, such as in vaccines or in dental fillings.
While this is a personal decision you can make for yourself, there are advantages to removing your metal fillings. The providers at Whole Body Dental in Bellevue, Washington, offer restorative dentistry techniques such as the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART). Here, they explain more about the benefits of removing your metal fillings.
If you develop tooth decay, also known as dental cavities or caries, your dentist needs to drill into your tooth to remove the decay and stop it from spreading any further.
After they drill to remove the decay, they must fill the area where they drilled using a dental filling. This is the most common procedure we perform as a part of restorative dentistry.
Dental fillings are made out of several different materials, including the following:
Although you may not need to replace your filling yet, all fillings are semi-permanent with differing lifespans. The lifespan of a metal filling is about 10-15 years.
One common reason is cosmetic. The metal used in fillings can look unsightly and outdated, especially compared to tooth-colored fillings. You simply can’t hide that you’ve had a few cavities if you choose metal fillings.
Another reason is replacing them due to wear and tear. After 10-15 years, metal fillings often need to be replaced because metal expands and shrinks with temperature extremes. Eventually, this can cause not only tooth sensitivity to hot and cold, but the filling can also pull away from the tooth’s surface.
Lastly, some people remove their fillings due to concerns about mercury safety. The mercury used in fillings is different from the kind you might encounter when eating fish. The mercury in fillings is released as a vapor, primarily during placement and removal.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you’re not a good candidate for getting a metal filling or for removing your metal fillings.
Removing metal fillings does release more mercury vapor into your system, so we do not advise this procedure for people in the following categories:
If you’re not sure, you can always ask your provider. In general, we find that most people benefit from having composite resin fillings over metal. They are safe, durable, and provide the greatest cosmetic dentistry benefit. To learn more about safely removing your metal fillings, contact us or request an appointment online.