Mercury Free Fillings Portland
Many years ago, Dr. Miller and Dr. Stafford made the decision to never place an amalgam (silver) filling again. Even within the dentistry field, this topic is controversial and varied. There are several compelling reasons that motivated their original choice to the present:
- The packaging containing the material includes the universal sign for poison. They do not want their employees handling the material, nor do they want to place it in someone’s mouth.
- Placing amalgam requires more of the natural tooth to be removed during the procedure. As a proponent in preserving as much tooth as possible, this goes against their philosophy of tooth preservation. Even though using the composite (tooth colored) material requires more time for the procedure and skill in placing, Dr. Miller and Dr. Stafford feel this is the best option for their patients.
- The silver material is strong. Very strong! Stronger than a natural tooth. This may sound ideal, but over the years the material will expand and contract in the tooth, thus weakening the tooth. We see many people who have no issues with the filling, until the tooth breaks away from the filling which many times requires a crown or onlay. And in some instances, the removal of the entire tooth.
- The amalgam can stain the surrounding gum tissue leaving a permanent “tattoo”, even after the silver is removed.
- More times than not, there is decay under old amalgam fillings that do not appear on x-rays. Such hidden decay can be a reason for painful abscesses and needed root canals.
- The amalgam filling, containing mercury, gives off gases when rubbed (chewing, grinding) or heated (drinking hot coffee or eating soup).
When examining a patient’s mouth, Dr. Miller, Dr. Stafford and their team will always let them know if amalgam fillings exist. We inform people of the risks involved in keeping the fillings and always offer to remove them. When someone decides to proactively replace the fillings with composite material, we take very specific steps to ensure the safety of the removal of the hazardous materials. This includes:
- Using a rubber dam to prevent pieces going down the patient’s mouth
- Using high speed suction to quickly and efficiently removing the metal
- Placing oxygen on the person’s nose to prevent breathing and reabsorbing the dust
- Using a higher speed drill so the filling is broken up into larger pieces and thus removed quicker
Most insurance companies allow the white fillings to be placed on front teeth. However for back teeth, many will only reimburse at the silver filling rate. This difference becomes the responsibility of the patient. If is important to note that the procedure is not the same. The tooth is prepared differently and the material placed requires additional steps. The cost variance is a reflection of additional skill and time. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact any member of our team.
Dr. Miller and Dr. Stafford eliminated mercury-containing fillings from their practice many yeras ago because questions still remain about its safety and because we believe advancing technology has made better materials available. We offer gold, porcelain, and composite restorations and will recommend what is most appropriate for your situation.
*All images are of actual patients