Our dentists only use white tooth colored filling material. In fact, we have not performed any silver amalgam metal fillings in this office since 1998. A recent poll showed that only about 45% of dentists still offer amalgam fillings as an option. This number has been going down for many years.
There are a number of advantages to white fillings. In most cases less drilling on your tooth is required to place a white filling. This conserves tooth structure and reduces the risk of tooth fracture in the future. The result is a smaller filling and less removal of healthy tooth structure.
White fillings actually bond to your tooth and strengthen the remaining tooth structure. This also reduces the risk of the tooth fracturing in the future.
These type of fillings are made of a composite resin material that comes in many shades. This means that in most cases the dentist can place a filling that matches your existing tooth shade. Your filling will be invisible to other people, unlike the old silver fillings that often turn black over time.
Silver amalgam filling materials contain mercury. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin. Extremely old amalgam fillings have actually been shown to emit small amounts of mercury vapor once they start breaking down. If you have ever heard the phrase “Mad as a Hatter” you are aware of the effects of too much mercury. Back in the day, hatters used to line the inside of hats with mercury. They would rub the mercury into the hats with their bare hands. Since mercury is absorbed directly through skin it would accumulate in their bodies eventually causing them to go mad after many years handling mercury. Luckily, only small amounts of mercury are ever released from your metal fillings and no studies, to date, have shown a link between metal fillings and any health problem. There is no need to rush to your dentist to have all of your metal fillings replaced. Your dentist will notify you when it is necessary to replace a broken down metal filling. Rest assured, your new, white composite resin filling contains no neurotoxins.
Finally, in many situations, white fillings reduce the chances that you will one day need a crown on your tooth when compared to the comparable silver amalgam filling. The opposite can be said of silver amalgams.