What Are the Benefits of Removing Metal Fillings?

Sep 01, 2023
What Are the Benefits of Removing Metal Fillings?
Although FDA-approved, metal fillings are controversial because of their mercury content. Here are some benefits of removing metal fillings through the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART).

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.

Why you need a filling

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:

  • Solid metal (stainless steel or gold)
  • Metal amalgam, which is a mixture of 50% mercury and a powdered alloy of tin, silver, and copper
  • Composite resin, which is a tooth-colored mixture of glass or ceramic and proprietary plastic resin

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.

Why you should remove your metal fillings

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 The metal used in fillings can look unsightly and outdated, especially compared to tooth-colored fillings.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.

Cautions for certain population groups

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:

  • Pregnant women (or those who are trying to conceive)
  • Breastfeeding mothers
  • Children under the age of 6
  • People with neurological impairment
  • People with kidney disorders

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.