In the 1840s dentists discovered they could make a paste out of silver and mercury that they could use to fill a tooth after removing a cavity. The paste would harden and remain viable for many years. They have been called silver fillings, but they are actually less than half silver. The technically correct term would be amalgam fillings.
For over one hundred years amalgam fillings have been the standard practice. Then in the 1980s, there were two specific technological breakthroughs that made other options more attractive. First, a white composite filling material was developed with enough strength and wear resistance to be able to serve as a long-lasting filling on back teeth. Second, bonding technology advanced enough to enable the fillings to be bonded directly to the teeth.
A Mercury-Free Dentist
While many dentists still prefer to do things “the way they’ve always been done”, Dr. Burgess embraced the new technology. He realized that many patients have concerns about putting a substance that is 50% mercury into their body. Plus, Dr. Burgess knew how many additional advantages it had for his patients.
Advantages of Mercury-Free Composite Fillings
- They bond directly to the tooth, which strengthens your tooth. Amalgam fillings weaken the tooth.
- Much less tooth structure has to be removed to restore a cavity.
- There is much less sensitivity than with metal fillings. The composite fillings do not conduct hot and cold they way amalgam does.
- As you can see from the pictures above, composite fillings are much more attractive. It is difficult to distinguish the fillings from the natural tooth structure.
Over time, amalgam fillings will corrode. Large amalgam fillings, as they age, will also tend to exhibit what is called “metal creep” where they will exert pressure against weak walls of your tooth and contribute to tooth fracture. If your old amalgam fillings are showing cracks and gaps, or we can spot small cracks starting to develop in your teeth, we will likely recommend that you have them replaced with composite fillings.
If you are interested in mercury-free fillings, just call our office, or visit our make an appointment page.