Replacing Silver Fillings

San Antonio Dental Office

Replacing Silver Fillings

So many people complain about their old silver fillings. They hate how they look or the fact that amalgam contains mercury scares them. Surpisingly, most people have never heard about the two things that worry dentists the most about silver tooth fillings. Keep reading to find out about those little known risks. Figure out whether or not your metal fillings put your teeth and your health at risk. The answers may surprise you! Get the scoop on replacing silver fillings with white ones. Find out if dentists still use silver fillings and how long do fillings last. We’ll show the differences of silver fillings vs white fillings and help you figure out the bottom line question: Should you remove silver fillings and get silver fillings replaced with white ones?

Replace Silver Amalgam Fillings

Do dentists still use silver fillings?

Some dentists still use silver fillings; however, at Precision Cosmetic Dentistry we choose not to. For decades, dentist confidently placed amalgam silver metal fillings, knowing amalgam was the best they had to offer. In the last 20 years, however, the technology of composite white filling materials has advanced exponentially. I choose to do white fillings because they are now the best fillings available. Comparing silver fillings vs white fillings uncovers two of the dark secrets of silver fillings that only dentists know about: silver fillings permanently stain or “tatoo” teeth with ugly dark metal color. And, even more worrisome, silver fillings cause tooth fractures over time.

Replace Silver Amalgam Fillings
Replace Silver Amalgam Fillings

As these pictures clearly show, amalgam fillings darken teeth. Even so, people don’t usually realize how much the silver filling has darkened their teeth until they see a picture of their smile. Not only do these fillings show up as grayed or darkened areas on teeth, but they can also appear as shiny dark patches.

How long do fillings last

If you google “how long do fillings last,” you’ll get a very wide range of answers from seven years to twenty years. Which is correct? They all are! My wife received a metal filling nearly 35 years ago and never had a problem. I’ve also seen fillings fail in two years. How long a filling lasts depends on several key factors. 

Obviously, the quality of the dental work matters 

Did all the decay get removed? How effectively did the dentist design the filling shape? Did the dentist use high quality materials? Did the filling get sealed completely around its edges? Any of these technical clinical issues cause a filling to fail sooner rather than later. 

However, the filling owner plays a role in how long do fillings last too 

Do you brush and floss regularly? Do you snack throughout the day or sip on sweetened (even slightly sweetened) drinks during the day? How often do you chew ice or bite hard things? Do you clench or grind? Not keeping the tooth clean, exposing it to sugar and abusing it damages fillings & shortens their lifespan.

cavities
Discolored Teeth

How Long do fillings last: Silver Fillings vs white fillings

Finally, the actual materials have inherent weaknesses that result in different kinds of filling failure. Comparing silver fillings vs white fillings, silver fillings are made from metal while white fillings are actually made from substances called resin composites or glass ionomers. Metal lasts. Period. When was the last time you saw something made from non-rusting metal suddenly fail. As durable as they are, silver fillings have a weakness though. As metal, they expand and contract when temperature changes. These microscopic expansions and contractions weaken the tooth and eventually fracture it if the filling is large enough.

White filling materials don’t expand or contract; however, they get held in place by bonding. Their weakness is that strength of a white filling can’t exceed the strength of the bond. In the 80’s and 90’s, when bonds were being developed they were relatively weak and couldn’t maintain their hold longer than 5-7 years. That’s why composite white fillings would last less time than the silver tooth fillings. Now, however, bond engineering has improved dramatically and I frequently see white fillings that are 10-20 years old. That being said, really old white fillings tend to absorb stain and this can be ugly if the filling is on a front tooth.

What are my silver fillings made of

Silver fillings contain a mixture of silver, tin, copper, zinc, mercury and other metals. People usually worry about silver tooth fillings because of the mercury.

Many websites claim that the mercury can leak out into your body and cause health problems. Fortunately, years of research have demonstrated that the mercury is bound in the filling and does not leak into the body. If it could be liberated either by leaking or by drilling, then older dentists’ bodies would be full of it since many of them were exposed to it daily for decades. Researchers have been gathering data on these now elderly dentists for many decades and have yet to see any with elevated mercury in their bodies or evidence of mercury poisoning. The mercury is bonded into the filling like the egg is bonded into a baked cake. Good luck getting the egg out by itself once you’ve mixed it in and, especially, once you bake it.

Silver fillings do create risk; however, the risk is not mercury poisoning but tooth fracture. Of the billions of people who have had silver fillings, we have yet to see elevated mercury, but we do see an increase in tooth fractures over time. So should you remove silver fillings or not? Keep reading to discover more about the process of replacing them as well as the inside scoop on how a dentist thinks about silver filling removal.

Replace Silver Amalgam Fillings
crowns

Replacing silver fillings with white

Wondering how we replace silver fillings with white ones? In silver filling removal, a dentist first cleans out all of the old silver filling material from the tooth. Next, the tooth needs to be carefully inspected for secondary decay and for fractures. Any additional decay needs to be cleaned out. If the tooth fractured, then the silver filling will be replaced with a crown or onlay instead of another white filling because fractures must be held together from the outside. Fillings in fractured teeth fail quickly. If the tooth contains no fractures, then the filling can be replaced with a white, tooth-colored composite filling. You can have fresh teeth and fresh fillings in as little as one visit.

Silver Amalgam Filling Replacement
Replace Silver Amalgam Fillings
Replace Silver Amalgam Fillings

Modern Restorations are Whiter and Healthier

By removing and replacing amalgam fillings, patients geta “double win.” Not only does a modern restoration brighten and correct tooth darkening, but it also stops the damaging expansion and contraction. 

Should you remove silver fillings

Should you remove silver fillings or not? Here’s how I normally approach silver filling removal for my patients.

  1. Look at your smile. Does the filling standing out in your beautiful smile?
  2. Examine the filling from the outside. Do I see a filling in good shape or one falling apart with chips and wear? Do I see dark gray or brown shadows under the filling?
  3. I look for decay on the xray.
  4. What percentage of the tooth is filling? The more metal you have in your tooth, the more the tooth gets affected by the metal expansion and contraction.
  5. If you can’t see your metal filling in your smile, and the filling is newer and smaller and shows no signs of secondary decay or complications, I often feel comfortable leaving it alone.
  6. If the silver tooth filling is large, old or showing signs of wear or decay, then your tooth will probably last longer if you replace the silver filling with a white one. In these cases, I typically answer “Yes!” to the question “should you remove silver fillings?”. 
  7. If I see a fracture, I most definitely will recommend replacing the silver filling with a crown or extraction before it turns into a massive infected toothache. A small fracture can be treated with a crown. A large fracture needs to be extracted before it blows up. Bacteria enter the tooth through fractures and eventually kill the nerve.

Our Patient Reviews

  • Sylvia Rios
    Sylvia Rios
    1 month ago
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    Great word

  • Judy Howitt
    Judy Howitt
    1 month ago
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    My husband and I have been coming here for 25 years. We drive 20 miles to get here and there are many dentists we could use that are much closer, but we choose Dr. Bec.

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    Krystle Dimas
    2 months ago
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  • Rosalba Martinez
    Rosalba Martinez
    2 months ago
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    Always a great job with Dr. Bec! His staff is very helpful and friendly. Great work on my crowns, tooth implant and cleanings!

  • Mario Hernandez
    Mario Hernandez
    2 months ago
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    I’ve been here a lot of times and they treated me with kindness. And they work with your schedule too.

  • Debbie Vasquez
    Debbie Vasquez
    2 months ago
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    This is a great place, if your looking definitely choose them. The staff is always helpful and everyone is so nice. Best place to have your dental work done 😁

  • Christina Lopez
    Christina Lopez
    2 months ago
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    Love Doctor Bec’s office and his whole staff! I had a cleaning yesterday which usually freaks me out, but his team was patient and understanding. I’m very happy with the level of service provided. Definitely recommend!

  • Michael Perez
    Michael Perez
    2 months ago
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    Just had two crowns removed, two cavities treated, and two temporary crowns installed. The next day I had the temporary crowns removed and permanent crowns installed. All materials and equipment used were first class, the work was minimally uncomfortable and most importantly the final product is as near perfect as humanly possible. Same results for his implants and cavity resolution. Dr. Bec is highly skilled, compassionate and his staff is likewise. I recommend Dr. Bec to anyone who values their teeth.

  • Anna Schertz
    Anna Schertz
    2 months ago
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    Excellent dentist and staff. Dr Bec and his staff have made me more comfortable having dental work performed. I really like and respect him and his staff for never pushing me to do any unnecessary procedures. Thank you Dr Bec and your amazing staff

  • Irma Tobias
    Irma Tobias
    2 months ago
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    I had a wonderful experience with my teeth cleaning today. Carina did a fabulous job. If I could give Dr Bec and staff 10 stars, I certainly would.

  • linda rose
    linda rose
    2 months ago
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    My cleaning was wonderful. As always.

  • Rocio Cortés luna
    Rocio Cortés luna
    2 months ago
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    Recomiendo esta oficina del Dr. Bec, muy profesional...igual que todo su equipo!!!!

  • Manu Bizau
    Manu Bizau
    2 months ago
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    I’ve been a patient of this dental practice since 2013 and I’ve never been disappointed! Every single time I come in I’m being welcomed by Yvonne and Stephanie with a big friendly smile. They call me by name and make the experience personal. I was generally afraid of dental appointments but Dr Bec, assistants Desire and Gill, Otilia(executive) and the entire team made the visits feel enjoyable, they made me feel part of the family and I would always leave the office with a smile. I can’t thank them enough for the care and support they offer during each visit. I greatly recommend this dental office, and specifically Dr Bec for the amazing work he does. I smile bigger and brighter because of the work he does! I recently finished my Invisalign treatment and the results are amazing. I’ve gotten many compliments on my new smile. Thank you so much for all you do! Maria Bizau

  • claudia costescu
    claudia costescu
    2 months ago
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    Amazing team. Going into their office I was very nervous because I knew how much work and how complicated my case was. But I can’t say enough good things about everyone. Very professional, friendly and knowledgeable. Thank you everyone I am very happy and grateful for you all

  • Blake Erwin
    Blake Erwin
    2 months ago
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    Great work and some of the friendliest staff!

  • My experience at Precision Dentistry was very rewarding. I found Dr. BEC to be professional in his practice, with a dedication to finding a solution for whatever dental care needed. My decision in choosing a dental option was made quite easy with no pressure whatsoever. I am now enjoying the freedom to eat a variety of foods I had limited too before.Thanks to Dr. Bec for helping me regain my smile and looking forward to a more meaningful happy life along with my granddaughters and family. And to his wonderful staff, I also thank you. Your attentive caring ways in reaching out to the patients is heart felt and appreciated. 💕

  • Bruce Cauley
    Bruce Cauley
    2 months ago
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    Great dentist and excellent cleaning

  • Paula Bond
    Paula Bond
    2 months ago
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    The whole staff is friendly and professional. Dr Beck is honest and profoundly skilled!

  • Enrico Paoletti
    Enrico Paoletti
    2 months ago
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    This practice was professional and did a very good job with my dentures and I would highly recommend them to anyone.

  • Andrew James
    Andrew James
    2 months ago
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    Excellent whitening experience! Very happy with results.

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