getting a dental filling

 So You’ve Learned You Need Some Dental Fillings

You’re not alone – even Siberian tigers sometimes need dental fillings.

Fillings of various types can be done, as you probably are aware, ranging from the more traditional metal or amalgam filling, to the now more popular tooth-colored fillings. As I mention in my blog on Cosmetic Dentistry, a common belief that patients often state to me is that a non-metal filling will be less sensitive than a metal one.  In my experience just the opposite is the case. Also, metal fillings are time-tested, reliable, easier to work with, and less costly.

What Type of Dental Fillings Should I Get? Are Amalgam Fillings Safe?

The topic of “mercury” in metal fillings has been in the news a lot over the past few years due to concerns that the mercury escapes from the amalgam fillings and presents a serious health hazard. There have been several studies on the amount of mercury that is released from dental amalgams and the general finding is that the amount released is low. If you grind your teeth or chew a lot of gum, the amount could be a bit higher.

This comment on page 11 comes from this extensive report on mercury in the environment:

Barregard et al (1995) investigated the relationship between amalgam fillings and mercury uptake and found that mercury uptake from dental amalgams is low. However, there is considerable variation between individuals due primarily to gum chewing habits and bruxism, a rhythmic or spasmotic grinding of the teeth other than chewing and typically occurring during sleep.”

We can provide any type of filling that you want. We think, however, that the amalgam filling issue has been over-hyped. Amalgam or mixed metal fillings are very durable, in our experience, more durable than the tooth-colored fillings many patients now ask for. So it’s not very likely your amalgam filling will leak more than a minuscule amount of mercury over a very long period of time. If the filling begins to break down then it could leak but if you are getting regular checkups, this issue would be caught early on. We are not in agreement with those who advise that all metal fillings be removed and replaced with tooth-colored fillings.