A wall sconce in the hallway of our dental practice

What You Need to Know About Your Silver Fillings

By Ronald K. Greif, D.D.S., Originally printed in St. Louis Women’s Journal

When an individual goes to the dentist and a problem is discovered during the exam,three questions always arise. These questions being: How much will it cost me? Will it hurt? And, how quick can you fix me so I can get the checkout of here? These questions are very understandable, for when the role is flipped and I am the patient, I want to know the exact same things.

Often enough, when the patient comes into my office with a problem, they have a large silver filling present with all or much of the tooth broken off around the silver filling. Sometimes the tooth around the filling is totally gone with only the silver fillings standing up off the broken tooth base.

Of course, the individual wants to know how or why this happens. There are lots of reasons for this. From my observations and experience have come up with a successful way of avoiding many broken teeth and therefore avoiding pain and possibly whole the experience for the patient.

First of all, silver fillings aren’t just silver. They are a mix of silver, tin, copper, zinc,and mercury. The last element, mercury is what makes all the elements stable and cohere together. This works out okay and seems to do well for some years but, two problems arise.

The first is that the mercury in the filling material is the same mercury found in thermometers. As the heat rises(such as hot coffee, hot pizza, etc.) in the mouth with this material it expands and pushes the tooth away from the filling. As the temperature falls (with chewing ice, eating ice cream, cold beverages,etc.) in the mouth the filling shrinks or condenses. This has a push-pull effect on the tooth that can end up making the tooth sensitive or snap-ping the tooth off, such as what happens frequently with various patients.

Secondly, mercury is astron neurological toxin and has been proven to be health deterrent. When patients ask what is best for their teeth, I usually suggest few options. If the filling is fairly small I use a “resin”type of filling. Silver is okay for small fillings but, is not used because of the two points previously given.

If the filling is large I would use a porcelain or gold mate-rail that bonds to the tooth hand actually makes it stronger. My experience has been that “silver fillings” only fill the tooth where the cavity used to be and doesn’t really make the tooth stronger,such as with the gold or porcelain mentioned.

Price-wise gold and porcelain are more expensive, but Bifid that it really works out to be cheaper because the tooth doesn’t crack nearly as often in the future. This, in essence, means less cost for the patient is the long run.

My advice is to ask your dentist what kind of material he wants to use in your tooth next time he wants to do filling. If he wants to use silver, consider asking the dentist to use “white” or “gold”material. You’ll probably have stronger tooth for it.

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