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Every so often, the topic of ‘the safety of silver or amalgam dental fillings’ comes up. Newspapers, magazines and TV are very good at panicking the public…and why not, it makes for great ratings.
Actually, silver dental fillings have been used in dentistry for over 100 years and have been placed in millions of people with no adverse effects on their health. Research has shown that to this day, they are completely safe and in some situations may even hold on better than white fillings.
Research is one thing, but from the 24 years that I have been placing dental fillings, although the majority of fillings I do are white fillings, there are times that I feel that a silver filling will do better than a white one.
Factors which determine which type of filling material will hold up better:
1) Where in the mouth the filling is to be placed
2) How deep/extensive the filling is
3) The person’s oral hygiene
Generally, if the filling to be placed is very large and deep and going to be situated in a molar tooth, (which is located in the back), and the person’s gums are red, swollen and bleed quite readily, then it’s a no brainer; a silver dental filling would be the best choice. It will definitely hold up better especially if the person does not plan on getting a crown (I will be explaining what a crown is in a future entry), which is often encouraged when a filling is quite large.
I still have some silver fillings in my mouth from many years ago which are in perfectly good condition. They are in my back (molar) teeth which are hardly visible. So, when a patient comes in with silver fillings, I don’t advise them to remove them, unless there is a valid reason to do so. Besides, if I have some in my mouth, how can I tell other people that they have to remove theirs?
In addition, if silver fillings were deemed to be a health concern, the Canadian Dental Association would not permit Canadian dentists to use them as a filling material!
The Bottom Line
If a filling is not acceptable (whether white or silver), then I will recommend that it be redone. However, before I decide which material to use, I inform and explain [to the patient], which I feel will function the best in their mouth…then it is ultimately their decision.
There are various reasons to replace an old filling and I will discuss these in the next entry!
If you have cracked or broken teeth, tooth decay or teeth that are worn, you may require a filling. We can help. Call us today at (905) 791-3867 to book your appointment.
About Dr. Axelrad
One of Brampton’s most recommended dentists, Dr. Robert Axelrad has owned and managed his own dental practice since 1997. Affectionately known by his patients as Brampton’s Gentle Dentist, he moved his practice to its current, state-of-the-art dental office in Brampton, Ontario in 2002 to accommodate his growing list of happy patients.