Our Chicago dentists are committed to providing the healthiest, highest quality restorative and cosmetic treatment to our patients. With that in mind, we have put together this short overview of the role of mercury in dentistry. We hope that this article helps you determine what kind of treatment is right for you.
Mercury In Dentistry
You may have heard the term “mercury filling” before, but what does it mean? A mercury filling is really an amalgam filling—it is made up of several types of metals mixed together. Amalgam fillings may contain silver, zinc, copper, tin, and mercury. Fillings are used to repair teeth after cavity extraction, and amalgam used to be one of the only options when it came to materials.
Because amalgam contains mercury, we hear from many patients who want to know if they are at risk of developing mercury poisoning. The American Dental Association asserts that research has not shown a clear connection between amalgam and elevated mercury levels. Regardless, many people choose to forgo amalgam fillings, because:
- They don’t like the way they look—amalgam fillings are dark and gray, they don’t blend in with the patient’s tooth
- Amalgam is heat-reactive—your filling will expand when hot and contract when cold. While these shifts are imperceptible to the patient, they can strain surrounding tooth structure
- Amalgam changes with age—there is a risk of amalgam leaching mercury vapors if the filling is damaged or failing
There are a number of alternative materials that can restore your tooth without the disadvantages of amalgam.
- Ceramic: this type of fillings I made from porcelain, which makes it strong and natural looking. Another benefit of ceramic is that it resists environmental stains.
- Composite: made of plastic and resin, this type of filling begins as a soft, moldable material, and is then cured with a light to harden. Many patients like composite fillings because they can be custom-shaded to match the patient’s enamel.
- Gold: as with silver fillings, gold fillings are made of a mixture of metals and gold, not gold alone. However, they end up similarly colored to gold. This type of fillings is generally the longest lasting; it is also the most expensive type of restoration.
Our Tinley Park dentists are here to help you learn more about all of your restorative treatment options, so that you can choose the perfect solution for your smile. To learn more, or to schedule a personal consultation with our team, please give our office a call!