Why should I have my “silver” fillings replaced?
Silver fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, contain high levels of mercury which is highly toxic. Alarmingly, these are still being placed into people’s mouths in some dental practices, and some insurance companies will only pay for amalgam fillings, which are cheaper, so that the patient must pay the difference out-of-pocket if they opt for the white/composite fillings.
Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), that was a long time ago, and anyway, we strongly disagree. We therefore do not place any silver fillings in this office. We only replace them.
If you still have any silver fillings, we strongly urge you to get them replaced with white composite fillings.
Still not convinced? Watch this video:
In addition to nontoxicity, composite fillings are preferable to amalgam fillings for several other reasons:
- Composite fillings are more durable and last longer both because of the material and because of the layering technique which is used to place them.
- The composite material itself bonds to the teeth, which holds them snugly in place, unlike amalgam fillings which do not adhere to the teeth. This helps strengthen a tooth weakened by decay, requires less drilling of healthy tooth to properly place the filling, and better secures the tooth against future decay below the filling.
- Composite fillings look better.
Which type of toothbrush should I use?
The brand of the toothbrush is not as critical as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums, and a small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. It’s unnecessary to “scrub” the teeth as long as you are brushing at least twice a day and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings.
Is one toothpaste better than others?
Generally, no. However, it’s advisable to use a fluoride containing toothpaste to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride.
How often should I floss?
Flossing of the teeth once per day helps to prevent cavities from forming between the teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing also helps to keep your gums healthy.
What’s the difference between a “crown” and a “cap”?
These are restorations to repair a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and all decay. The restoration material is made of gold, porcelain, composites, or even stainless steel. Dentists refer to all of these restorations as “crowns”. However, patients often refer to the tooth-colored ones as “caps” and the gold or stainless steel ones as “crowns”.
What’s the difference between a “bridge” and a “partial denture”?
Both bridges and partial dentures replace missing teeth. A bridge is permanently attached to abutment teeth or, in some cases, implants. A partial denture is attached by clasps to the teeth and is easily removed by the patient. Patients are usually more satisfied with bridges than with partial dentures.
Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown?
No. While most teeth which have had root canal treatments do need crowns to strengthen the teeth and to return the teeth to normal form and function, not every tooth needing a crown also needs to have a root canal.
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