I have a cavity and have to get a filling. My sister-in-law keeps saying I have to get only get the mercury-free fillings, but how do I know it’s that? Are the other ones called mercury-free?
The old type of traditional fillings were, and still are, loaded with mercury. Their clinical name is amalgam fillings, but they’re more commonly called silver fillings. The reason your sister-in-law told you to stay away from them is mercury is known to be a toxin, with deleterious effects on both your health and cognitive function. In other words, mercury is bad for both your body and brain. That being said, the American Dental Association has declared these fillings are perfectly safe with testing data to back up their claims. Those who disagree also have tests to back up their claims, which leaves patients in a quandary. Which is correct?
Most have decided not to risk it and because we have other options in fillings, they’ve decided to go to dentists who offer mercury-free fillings. These are called composite fillings or, sometimes, white fillings. They have no mercury content and are just as useful as fillings as their older counterparts.
Talk to your dentist about your concerns. It sounds like this may be your first cavity. That’s pretty impressive. If the cavity is in a visible spot when you smile, your dentist can match it to the color of your natural teeth. No one will even be able to tell there is a filling there.
Something to consider is whether you’re planning on doing any type of cosmetic work in the near future. If you plan on doing something, like teeth whitening, you’ll want to do it before the filling so that your dentist can match the filling to the new brighter, white coloring. Once it’s bonded in place, the color can’t be changed. What’s bonded there is what you’ll get. However, that only matters if it’s on a front, visible surface of your tooth. If it’s in the grooves of a molar or some other less visible area, the matching doesn’t have to be as precise.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Theodore Hadgis.