TOOTH SMART DENTAL BLOG

Are you wearing a lot of Silver?

It would be a good idea for jewellery but not for your teeth.

What are silver fillings? – Silver fillings, as they are commonly called, are a dental amalgam, a type of dental filling material. It has now been used for decades to fill cavities and replace lost tooth structure that is caused by the decay of a tooth. It is commonly called a silver filling because of its silver colour appearance. It contains liquid mercury and a powdered alloy composed of tin, copper, and silver. Although it has been used for many years to treat millions of patients all over the world, new advancements in dental sciences have found much smarter ways to replace missing tooth structure that is less invasive and more aesthetically pleasing.

Why should I replace my silver filling, it has been there for a long time, it hasn’t caused me any problems so far, why bother replacing it now? – This is one of the most common questions we get asked. Your silver filling may not have caused any problem ‘yet’ or you may not be aware of what affect it can have on your general health and your tooth. So let’s talk about the perceived and real dangers of silver fillings.

Effects on general health – Silver fillings contain mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can cause several health problems. Certainly, patients with silver fillings do report symptoms such as irritability, depression, numbness and tingling in the extremities, frequent night urination, chronic fatigue, cold hands, and feet, bloating, memory loss and constipation. (Australian Dental Journal: Dental amalgam and mercury in dentistry) This may not happen to everyone but mercury exposure through silver fillings is a complication that may happen over time with the above-mentioned health hazards.

According to the Australian Dental Association, silver fillings release very small amounts of mercury (2-5 micrograms per day in an adult) This release of mercury is either in the form of mercury vapors or inorganic ions. Mercury vapors at low levels are colourless, tasteless and odourless, making it difficult to know if they are present or to what extent. Mercury vapors in the oral cavity may be inhaled or exhaled into the lungs and absorbed via the respiratory system. It is suggested that 60% of mercury exposure from silver fillings is via inhalation of mercury vapors.

Metal ions from silver fillings may pass into the oral fluids to be ingested via the digestive system. It is suggested that 40% of mercury exposure from silver fillings is via the ingestion of metal ions. The level of urinary mercury is positively correlated with the number of silver fillings. The National Health And Medical Research Council has suggested reducing its use in special populations, including children, women in pregnancy and persons with existing kidney disease.

Affect on the tooth itself – Silver fillings do not bond to the teeth. They are placed to fill the empty space. They do not necessarily add any additional strength to the tooth. Instead, they can act as a wedge. So when you bite on your favourite nuts or pear or pork crackling next time, any silver fillings you have may cause your teeth to chip, crack or break.

Silver fillings are made up of metal hence when exposed to hot and cold food, they expand and contract respectively. This can cause the teeth to fracture, fillings can loosen up, micro gaps can appear between the silver fillings and the tooth. These micro gaps can result in microleakage. Thus bacteria can get in and start decaying the tooth again. This can also result in sensitivity in the tooth.

Silver fillings do not match the colour of the tooth. They are unsightly and over time turn black. Hence they are not aesthetically pleasing.

What to do next? – If you have any silver fillings which might need replacement, please contact us on 07 3399 6228. Tooth Smart Dental is a mercury-free practice. We offer aesthetically pleasing white fillings. We also make sure that we take the utmost care when removing and replacing your silver fillings.