What are the benefits of updating my ‘silver’ fillings?

Contradictory to their name, silver fillings are actually dominantly composed of mercury.  Mercury is the substance that is in thermometers so it is always expanding and contracting with temperature change.  One major reason to have mercury fillings updated to what we call composite (a resin-based material), is because of that constant fluctuation.  Every time you chew or eat something hot or cold, the mercury fillings are expanding and contracting developing cracks (whether large or microscopic) that overtime will cause the tooth to fracture.  Similar to a crack in your windshield, you never know which way a tooth will fracture.  The crack may go through the root, a cusp or down the side.  If the crack does go through the root, the tooth is deemed ‘un-savable’ and will have to be removed.  It is best to replace mercury fillings sooner than later to prevent this from happening.
Is there any danger to removing my mercury fillings?

Mercury is a toxic material that can lead to some health problems.  However, there are certain precautions that we take when removing mercury to eliminate any risk of exposure to mercury.

  • The evacuation (suction) system is operating at maximum efficiency.
  • Lots of water is used when removing the mercury to help capture the vapors.
  • Removal should be in large segments to reduce the generation of vapor and mercury particulate.

When I have my mercury fillings updated, what should be the replacement?

If there are no cracks in the tooth that is being replaced, and the mercury filling is considered to be relatively small, then a composite filling should be just fine.

If the tooth is severely cracked throughout, the best option will be a crown to hold the whole tooth together.

Ask lots of questions when having your teeth restored; you should be part of the treatment of your own mouth!