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Why dentists use fillings

It’s likely that you will need to have a filling in a tooth at some point in your life if you haven’t already. Cavities can occur in teeth for many reasons, including bacteria in your mouth, sugary diets and inadequate oral hygiene. Tiny holes (the cavities) develop on the surface of your teeth, and once this has occurred, placing a filing in the tooth is a reliable and effective method of managing tooth decay and one of the ways your dentist can stop the damage from continuing.

What are amalgam fillings?

Amalgam fillings have been used in dentistry for decades and are silver in appearance. They involve metal placed into the tooth around the cavity under anaesthetic and are intended to be long-lasting to protect the health of your tooth.

Amalgam fillings have been common for many years; however, as other methods and materials have emerged, providing people with choices, the use of amalgam fillings has fallen out of favour, mainly due to the fact that they contain mercury.

Health and environmental concerns have been raised regarding the possible ingestion of tiny amounts of mercury as the fillings are worn down over the years, plus the ecological impacts of disposal of the metals via dentists.

Why would you replace amalgam fillings?

Some reasons to have your existing amalgam fillings replaced may include personal preference if you have health concerns and would prefer to remove the mercury you may be exposed to. According to the Australian Dental Association, there is no evidence that the replacement of amalgam fillings is necessary for health reasons.

Amalgam is a combination of metals and has a dark appearance in the mouth, so removal from the tooth may appear more aesthetically pleasing to you. If you are experiencing some sensitivity around the tooth with the amalgam filling and it has been in place for a long time, it may be due to cracks surrounding the filling. Your dentist can assess whether or not you need to replace it due to changes in the surface over time.

composite filling Modbury patient preparation
Modbury composite filling before after

How do I get amalgam fillings replaced?

Make an appointment to consult with your dentist to assess the fillings you have concerns about. Your dentist can advise you on the factors involved in replacing your amalgam fillings, such as the risks, time and cost involved. Together you can assess the best approach for you and plan for future treatments.

After the initial consultation, you will make an appointment to have the old fillings removed and new ones placed. As a safety precaution and to reduce the possibility of mercury particles being released into the air during the procedure, high volume suction and water is used.

Depending upon the number of fillings you require replaced, we may plan removal of more than one at a time.

What are the alternatives to amalgam fillings?

There are many alternatives to amalgam fillings including glass, porcelain and gold, but the most popular choice is composite filling or composite resin, also known as a white filling, which is designed to match the colour of your existing teeth.

What are the advantages of composite or white fillings?

Composite fillings (or white fillings) have a more natural appearance and are much less noticeable in your smile or while talking than the dark colour of other fillings. Composite fillings are also more flexible, allowing them to expand and contract as other teeth apply pressure. This means they are less often associated with cracks underneath the filling that metal fillings are known to cause.

Composite fillings can also decrease the pain of sensitive teeth as they don’t conduct hot and cold temperatures as effectively as metal fillings. Some of our patients report the process of having a composite filling placed is less uncomfortable post-treatment than they experienced with amalgams. This is due to technologies now available which means less of your tooth needs to be removed when placing a composite filling for the first time.

At Tea Tree Dental, we no longer place amalgam fillings, due to it being quite an outdated material. We prefer instead to use all of the latest superior technologies and safer materials available when you require a filling. We will assess your unique situation and discuss the options with you carefully before proceeding.

Should you have your amalgam fillings replaced?

There are many reasons to consider having your amalgam fillings replaced. Changing to composite fillings can positively impact your smile and general well-being. Using the latest technologies can also extend the lifetime of your filling, which protects your teeth.

Having a filling replaced is a procedure much like having a filling, and ultimately, this decision is up to you. At Tea Tree Dental, we are here to advise and support your oral health and, with our extensive knowledge, can provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Replacing amalgam filling with composite filling Modbury
Modbury composite filling patient procedure

Contact us to make time to discuss your options for composite fillings or white fillings today.