Should I replace my amalgam fillings?

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General Dental Care
BDSc (Hons) (Melb)

amalgam fillings

Not too long ago, amalgam was the material of choice for dentists when placing fillings. Amalgam fillings, when properly done, were inexpensive, easy to place and long lasting. As dentistry has evolved, however, the disadvantages of amalgam have become more apparent. Apart from a lack of visual appeal, one of the main disadvantages of amalgam is that, traditionally, it cannot be chemically bonded to tooth structure and is retained in the tooth by way of physical undercuts. This means that the dentist has to remove healthy tooth structure to hold in an amalgam filling.

Additionally, amalgam expands and contracts and can cause cracks and fractures in the tooth as well as in the filling itself. Concern has also been raised about the mercury content in amalgam.

Waste in the form of removed amalgam also presents an environmental burden. Given the above considerations, the question arises as to whether your amalgam fillings should be replaced.

My recommendation is not to replace any kind of filling simply for the sake of it. A well-designed, intact amalgam filling should be watched and will need replacing only if signs or symptoms warrant this – for example, if there are signs of decay around the filling, chipping or cracking or poorly adapted margins. Some may also choose to replace amalgam fillings purely for aesthetic reasons.

What are the alternatives to amalgam fillings?

There are two different alternatives to amalgam fillings: composite fillings (made of resin) and CEREC fillings (made of porcelain).

Composite fillings

Composite fillings are a resin-based material made up of a mixture of powdered glass and plastic. They are great for filling smaller cavities and can be matched to the natural colour of your tooth so are a good option where aesthetics is a key concern such as for front teeth. A composite filling can be placed in just one appointment, and is a more affordable option to CEREC fillings. 

CEREC porcelain fillings

For replacing larger fillings, CEREC porcelain is a superior material. It is durable, is aesthetically appealing and enjoys a success rate of at least 90 per cent after 10 years. CEREC fillings are natural looking, strong and biocompatible and generally last longer than other types of filling materials. 

Your dentist will discuss with you the differences between filling options and depending on your particular case might recommend one over the other. Call our friendly team to book your filling appointment with one of our general dentists

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*The contents of this blog post are of a general nature only and may not apply to your specific circumstances. As every person is different we always recommend that you visit a qualified dental practitioner to obtain tailored dental advice to suit your own specific needs.

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