Modern dentistry has brought us many new materials, giving our patients new options such as mercury-free white fillings. Patients love that this composite filling material can also be colored to look as close to your natural tooth color as possible.

Why Go Mercury-Free?

Dental amalgam fillings — commonly known as “silver” fillings — contain small trace amounts of mercury along with other metals. Studies have shown these components to be toxic. In fact, traditional “silver” fillings have been reported to be approximately 50% mercury. Mercury was used because it was thought to be the only material able to tightly bond to the other metals and would not be released. But recent research suggests that small amounts of mercury vapor are released during chewing on these fillings. Whether or not this tiny amount of mercury is toxic is a subject of much debate.

Advantages of White Fillings

The composite (resin) material in white fillings is made to bond very well to the tooth. This means removal of the weakened tooth structure is not necessarily required. The benefit to this is that means much less drilling is required for new cavities, ending in a much smaller filling! An added benefit to the great bond composite material has to a tooth is that the structure becomes much stronger and less susceptible to fractures or breaking. Mercury-free white fillings can save a lot of expense over the long run. They can be adjusted in color to restore the natural appearance of the tooth and are less sensitive to hot and cold after the procedure than teeth restored with the traditional “silver” amalgam.

Replacing Metal Amalgams

There is no real evidence to prove amalgam fillings are dangerous or that they can cause oral health problems. That being said, you should only replace amalgam fillings once they are worn down or broken or when there is tooth decay beneath the filling. Removing any amalgam fillings in good or fair condition may result in unnecessary loss of healthy portions of the tooth and can unfortunately release more mercury. If you are concerned about amalgam, discuss your options with your dentist.

Care and Maintenance

Treat mercury-free white fillings with care. They are to be brushed at least twice a day with a soft bristle brush. You can brush and floss as you normally would. Be sure to refrain from using abrasive toothpaste and baking soda while brushing. Rinsing with a mouth wash that is alcohol-free is highly recommended. Using mouth wash enhanced with alcohol will cause filling deterioration over a prolonged period of time. It would be wise to minimize your sugar intake. This can help reduce your risk of developing tooth decay around the filling over the years of use. While the mercury-free white fillings are less susceptible to stains than natural teeth, it would still be wise to avoid drinks that tend to stain teeth. For example, drinks such as coffee and tea should be enjoyed in moderation.

Keep in Mind …

There is one thing to consider: The mercury-free white fillings can be seriously weakened by excessive alcohol consumption. If you have a habit of drinking beverages with high alcohol content (whiskey, wine, vodka, etc.) on a daily basis, the composite fillings may deteriorate prematurely.

Cost

The cost of composite dental fillings vary depending on the extent of the decay and tooth loss. A dental insurance provider typically covers a portion of the cost of white fillings, and the cost may vary from $50 to $500. Speak to your dentist or contact your insurance provider to be certain the cost of white fillings is covered.

If you have any questions about mercury-free dental fillings in San Juan Capistrano, California, or if you want to make an appointment with Dr. Mojgan Niktash, please call Paradise Dental Practice at 949-481-2121.