24th January 2022
Can I Have My Silver Fillings Replaced With White Fillings?
A brief history of fillings
Dentists have been filling teeth for millennia, but the material used has changed dramatically over time. From stone chips to wood, silver to gold, human beings have used whatever they could to fill cavities.
Metal amalgam became the material of choice in the early 19th century, and little changed until the second half of the 20th century when white fillings were introduced. Though metal amalgam is a strong, durable material, it is also unsightly, and today, most new fillings are tooth coloured. As a result of the considerable aesthetic improvement white fillings bring, many people are having their metal fillings replaced with white alternatives.
What are white fillings made of?
There are several types of tooth-coloured fillings. Glass ionomer fillings are made of acrylic acids and glass powder. In their favour, they require fewer teeth to be removed than amalgam fillings and release a small amount of fluoride to protect against decay. To their detriment, they are not particularly durable and can fracture. Resin ionomers are made of different materials but are similarly susceptible to fractures.
Larger fillings might need to be replaced with porcelain inlays or onlays, which are made of a highly durable feldspar quartz mixture. Composite fillings are made from powdered glass, quartz, silica, or other ceramic particles added to a resin base. These are highly durable and are made to match the colour of your natural teeth.
What could I get out of replacing my metal fillings?
There are several benefits to replacing fillings. Firstly, metal fillings contain mercury, which is a toxin, and although there is scant evidence this has harmed people’s health, many patients want it removed anyway. Secondly, white fillings are shaded to match your teeth, which is more aesthetically pleasing than having metal showing when you smile or laugh. Thirdly, if your amalgam fillings are old, they may need replacing. After removing the old filling, your dentist will clean out any hidden decay and fit a new, strong, tooth-coloured replacement.
Are there any downsides to replacing my metal fillings?
Having a new filling can result in increased sensitivity, although this usually fades over days or weeks. There’s also the issue of expense. If you’re replacing a large amalgam filling, you’ll probably need an inlay, onlay, or crown, which are considerably more expensive than the cost of a tooth-coloured filling.
Should I go for it?
We suggest talking to your dentist about your specific filling needs. Some dentists take the approach that unless your amalgam fillings need replacing, there are no health benefits to be gained by replacing them. Others emphasise that it is everyone’s right to choose a cosmetic treatment. Unsightly amalgam fillers can negatively affect a person’s self-image, while a clean, white smile can boost confidence and increase wellbeing as a result.
What’s the next step?
Contact our friendly staff at our dental clinic in London to talk through your options for white fillings.