A filling is a method used to restore normal function and shape to a tooth that is damaged by decay. Before you get a filling, your dentist will remove the decayed tooth material, clean that area, and then fill the cavity with a filling material.

Silver is one of these filling materials. While it is relatively cheap, silver fillings come with a number of problems. Because of this, at Valley Dental Works, we avoid using silver fillings.

What Are Silver Fillings?

Silver fillings seem like they are made out of silver, but in reality, they only have about 32% of this material. Mercury makes up 50% of a silver filling. It also has trace amounts of tin, copper, and zinc.

When mixed, these components create a hard and durable material called amalgam. The dental amalgam that is filled into decaying teeth is meant to strengthen them and prevent their removal.

The Mercury in Silver Fillings

Because of their 50%-mercury composition, silver fillings are known to be one of the top causes of mercury poisoning. In a recent study by the University of Washington, the results found that a low-level release of mercury toxins from a filling can lead directly to long-term brain damage.

If you have a silver filling in your teeth, every time you chew, a small amount of mercury from your filling gets released into your body. Chewing gum becomes especially problematic, as it releases an even more significant amount of mercury into your body.

Any variation with the temperature in your mouth, like drinking hot coffee or tea, will also increase the release of mercury in your mouth.

Other Disadvantages of Silver Fillings

  • Mismatched color: Silver fillings do not match the color of your natural teeth.
  • Destruction of more tooth structure: With silver fillings, healthy parts of the tooth must often be removed to make a space large enough to hold the filling.
  • Grayish hue: Silver fillings can create a grayish hue in the surrounding tooth structure.
  • Allergic reactions: Approximately 1% of people are allergic to the mercury present in amalgam restorations.
  • Limited lifespan: The durability of a silver filling is about ten years. This filling is packed into an area of your tooth, and as the filling starts to wear away over a long period of time, areas are exposed where bacteria can easily settle in and cause tooth decay.
  • Sensitivity to temperature changes: Metal naturally expands and contracts with changes in temperature. Since silver fillings are made of around 50% mercury, a metal used in thermometers, fillings adjust to the temperature. These ongoing expansions and contractions that occur in your tooth will weaken your tooth in the long run.
  • Visibility: Silver fillings are very noticeable. When you smile or laugh, they are quite prominent and can be embarrassing.

Your Filling Options at Valley Dental Works

If you’re interested in a safer type of dental filling, we offer gold, porcelain, and composite restorations at our office. Dr. Dan Miller, a cosmetic dentist with years of experience and numerous satisfied patients, will be happy to help you restore your teeth. Contact us for your consultation.