Restorative Dentistry FAQs
Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?
Over the years there has been some concern as to the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings. An amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin and zinc, bound by elemental mercury. Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for more than 100 years. The controversy is due to claims that the exposure to the vapor and minute particles from the mercury can cause a variety of health problems.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), up to 76% of dentists use silver containing mercury to fill teeth. The ADA also states that silver fillings are safe and that studies have failed to find any link between silver containing mercury and any medical disorder.
The general consensus is that amalgam (silver) fillings are safe. Along with the ADA’s position, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, the FDA, and others support the use of silver fillings as safe, durable, and cost effective. The U.S.
Public Health Service says that the only reason not to use silver fillings is when a patient has an allergy to any component of this type of filling. The ADA has had fewer than 100 reported incidents of an allergy to components of silver fillings, and this is out of countless millions of silver fillings over the decades.
Although studies indicate that there are no measurable health risks to patients who have silver fillings, we do know that mercury is a toxic material when we are exposed at high, unsafe levels. For instance, we have been warned to limit the consumption of certain types of fish that carry high levels of mercury in them. However, with respect to amalgam fillings, the ADA maintains that when the mercury combines with the other components of the filling, it becomes an inactive substance that is safe.
There are numerous options to silver fillings, including composite (tooth-colored), porcelain, and gold fillings. We encourage you to discuss these options with your dentist so you can determine which is the best option for you.
Why are x-rays necessary and are they dangerous?
An X-ray (radiograph) is like a photograph. The image on the radiograph is created when X-rays pass through the mouth, more X-rays are absorbed by the denser parts (such as teeth and bone) than by soft tissues (such as cheeks and gums) before striking the film. Because fewer X-rays penetrate the teeth to reach the film teeth appear lighter. Cavities and gum disease appear darker because of more X-ray penetration. Because many diseases exist beneath the visible oral tissue and cannot be detected without the use of radiographs, a radiograph is a valuable tool for the dentist to safely and accurately detect hidden abnormalities. X-rays pose a far smaller risk to your health than undetected and untreated dental problems.
Why do I need to have X-Rays taken?
X-rays allow the dentist to detect problems in areas not visible during visual examination, for example a cavity under an existing filling.
I don’t like needles, can I have gas for my treatment?
Dentist A Brite Smile has a few different ways to make your dental treatment more relaxing. Nitrous Oxide (known as happy gas or laughing gas) is one of the options available at most centres. Your dentist can discuss all available options with you.
Why do I need fluoride?
Fluoride strengthens the tooth surface and makes teeth less prone to cavities, especially when applied within 2 years following tooth eruption. Fluoride is a major part of modern preventive dentistry.