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What is Lurking Under Those Old Silver Filings?

Posted on: January 27th, 2023 | Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized

While our dentists have an easy time spotting tooth decay on teeth that don’t have fillings on them, it’s a different story for teeth that have fillings. The filling hides decay from both the naked eye and x-rays. This is truly unfortunate since there can be cracks and decay hiding underneath fillings, especially older silver fillings.

While the FDA has deemed silver (amalgam) fillings safe, they are being phased out due to the environmental impact the mercury in them has and due to more natural-looking alternatives that are now available. Many people, especially those who have gotten fillings over twenty years ago, still have amalgam fillings in their mouth. These fillings are made from a material that has been expanding and contracting in the mouth due to temperature changes in the mouth day in day out for years. This activity leads to a poorer seal of the filling in the mouth, allowing bacteria to leak underneath the fillings. Once this bacteria gets in, it starts causing decay underneath the filling.

Decay isn’t the only issue with these old fillings. Some of these fillings are quite large and act as a wedge inside the tooth, every time you chew, wedging the tooth a little more each time until cracks appear in the tooth. Combine this with underlying decay and you have a recipe for disaster that may end up requiring a root canal.

This has lead to a wave of old fillings being removed as people are trying to get ahead of the problem. The dentists remove the old fillings and are now able to clean the decay that has been accumulating underneath it before it reaches the pulp of the tooth, requiring a root canal. Upon removing the filling the dentist can also look for any cracks in the tooth that may have been caused by the old silver filling.

By taking these actions the dentist and patient can prevent pain that can come from infection if the tooth has been allowed to decay for too long. After all, once the pain arrives it’s already too late since it means that the decay or cracks have likely reached the pulp of the tooth.

Aside from the dental health aspect of having old silver fillings removed, many people choose to have them removed for other reasons. One common reason for the removal of old silver fillings is that they appear black in the mouth over time. Patients often want to have these unsightly black spots on their teeth removed. Additionally, some people may be concerned about the mercury content on the fillings. While the FDA has said it’s an acceptable amount of mercury exposure, many people would prefer no exposure.

Regardless of your motivation for wanting your amalgam fillings removed, the team at Nashua Dental Group would be glad to help. If you live near Nashua and are looking for a dentist to remove old fillings, look no further.


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