Is it time to replace your old filling with composite filling

Spring is around the corner! And with it, our thoughts turn to projects like gardening, fixing up the house and maybe even renovations. If you are in the mindset for sprucing things up, it might be an ideal time to think about refreshing your smile.

A simple and effective way to “touch up” your smile is by replacing any amalgam (also known as silver or mercury) fillings you have with white ones. It is common after a dental emergency – in which you’ve had grey fillings – to wish you could hide them. If you’re embarrassed by your fillings and tired of hiding your smile, ask us about composite fillings.

What are composite fillings or white fillings?
Composite fillings (or white fillings) are made of a porcelain-like material that bonds to the tooth for a tight seal. They are strong, stain-resistant, and colour-matched to the natural tooth, making them essentially ‘invisible’.

How are fillings done?
In filling teeth, the decayed material is removed and replaced with a restorative material such as composite. A local anaesthetic may be administered to numb the area if the cavity if fairly large.

Why do I need fillings?
Once a cavity starts, it continues to spread into the deeper parts of the tooth affecting the pulp leading to nerve damage and even an abscess. In the process, it destroys the tooth structure making the tooth weaker and possibly resulting in a fracture. Early treatment is less painful, less expensive and often preserves the tooth. If you feel you’ve left a cavity too long and you’re not wanting it to progress and affect any other part of your oral health, you’ll be best off scheduling an emergency dentist appointment at your earliest convenience to have your oral health checked over.

Why do I feel discomfort after my filling?
It is normal to experience some sensitivity to cold and pressure after a filling is done. The amount of post operative discomfort depends on the depth and extent of the cavity preparation which in turn depends upon the depth and extent of the original area of decay or of the old filling which is to be replaced.

If you feel any discomfort in chewing after a filling is done, a minor adjustment is usually all it takes to make you comfortable. Don’t wait too long as teeth can become quite sensitive if the bite is “high”. You can generate 40,000 pounds of pressure per square inch when chewing on your back teeth!

Are silver fillings safe?
In recent years, there has been a lot of controversy regarding the safety of amalgam fillings. According to the Canadian Dental Association and the dental community, there is no scientific evidence to substantiate the claims of mercury toxicity from amalgam fillings.

Should I change my amalgam fillings to white fillings?
If aesthetics is a major concern, then you should request the replacement of your amalgams with composites or porcelain crowns. But beware! Every time you remove one filling and put another in its place, you run the risk of killing the nerve of the tooth and then possibly needing a root canal or extraction.

Remember that the presence of mercury in amalgams is not considered a sufficient reason to replace them. We do not solicit the replacement of any old filling provided that it is still serviceable and you, the patient, do not object to its appearance.

If you are concerned about your amalgam fillings, feel free to discuss this with us.
Your smile will thank you!