Replacement of dental (cavity) fillings

A dental filling (also called a dental restoration or filling for a cavity) may last many years before it needs to be replaced. However, there are a number of reasons that fillings may need to be replaced. Constant stress from chewing, grinding and clenching teeth may eventually cause a filling to chip, crack, wear down, or fall out. A filling may also need to be replaced if the surrounding tooth structure becomes decayed.

Fillings that are worn or have pulled away from the teeth leave gaps at the filling edges, which provide an entry point for decay-causing bacteria. Bacteria are present in a thin film called plaque that forms on teeth and gums. If the seal between the tooth and the filling breaks down, food particles and bacteria can work their way between the worn filling and the tooth and cannot easily be removed with a toothbrush or other means.

Cross-section of tooth with decay under filling

Decay may develop along the edge of the filling or underneath it. Decay that is left untreated can infect the dental pulp, which often results in the need for root canal treatment. Untreated decay can even lead to loss of the tooth.

Regular dental examinations are important because problems with existing fillings generally can be detected in the early stage. Although you may not be able to tell that your filling is worn, your dentist can identify weaknesses in your dental restorations during a regular check-up.

During the exam, the dentist determines if the existing fillings are intact or if any have cracked or become worn. An instrument called an explorer can be used gently to detect any worn spots around the filling’s edge. Dental x-rays may be taken to find decay under a filling or between the teeth, neither of which can be seen simply by looking at the tooth.

Restoring worn fillings

Advances in modern dental materials and techniques offer new ways to create more natural-looking smiles. Researchers have been working for decades to develop materials, such as ceramic and plastic compounds, that look like natural teeth. There are several types of tooth-colored materials that can be used to repair damaged or decayed teeth.

Many factors affect the performance, durability, longevity and expense of dental fillings. These factors include:

  • the materials in the filling
  • size of the filling
  • where and how the filling is placed
  • patient’s level of oral health and hygiene
  • patient’s overall health
  • the chewing force that the tooth must bear
  • the length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth

There are several different types of fillings (amalgam and composite are two of the most common), but the ultimate decision about what to use is best determined by the patient in consultation with the dentist. (See our note on Silver/Mercury fillings below)

Before your treatment begins, discuss the options. In some cases, extensive tooth decay  around an existing filling may leave little tooth structure once the decay is removed. In that case, a crown may be recommended to completely cover and protect the remaining tooth.


Please Note:
THIS DENTAL OFFICE DOES NOT USE ANY “SILVER”/MERCURY FILLING MATERIAL
FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

FACT: “Silver” or amalgam dental fillings contain from 48-55 per cent mercury, 33-35 percent silver, and various amounts of copper, tin, zinc, and other metals. Since mercury is the major component of the material, any representation of the material should include the word “mercury.” Thus, in this office, we refer to them as mercury dental fillings.

FACT: Mercury is a powerful poison. Published research has shown that mercury is more toxic than lead, cadmium, and even arsenic. Furthermore, there is no known toxic threshold for mercury vapor and world renowned mercury toxicologists have stated that no amount of exposure to mercury vapor can be considered totally harmless.

FACT: Scientific research has demonstrated that mercury, even in small amounts, can damage the brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, thyroid gland, pituitary gland, adrenal gland, blood cells, enzymes and hormones, and suppress the body’s immune system. Mercury has been shown to pass the placental membrane in pregnant women and cause permanent damage to the brain of the developing baby.

FACT: Mercury is continually released from mercury dental fillings in the form of mercury vapor and abraded particles. This process is stimulated and can be increased as much as 15-fold by chewing, brushing, hot liquids, etc. The World Health Organization recently concluded that the daily intake of mercury from amalgam dental fillings exceeded the combined daily intake of mercury derived from air, water and food (including fish).

FACT: The mercury vapor released from mercury dental fillings is absorbed very rapidly and thoroughly in your body primarily by inhalation and swallowing.

FACT: In human autopsy studies, it has been found that there is a direct correlation between the amount of mercury found in the brain and the number and surfaces of mercury fillings in the teeth.

FACT: Mercury causes normal intestinal microflora to become mercury resistant and antibiotic resistant. Mercury resistant bacteria cause mercury in the intestinal tract to be converted back into vapor and recycled back into the body. Antibiotic resistance is becoming a major medical concern.

FACT: Recent scientific research has shown high levels of mercury in the brains of individuals dead from Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Other research is demonstrating mercury can cause similar pathological effects in the brain as that seen in Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) and AD. Laboratory studies of spinal fluid from ALS and AD patient’s has confirmed that mercury inhibits key brain detoxification enzyme systems.

ESTABLISHMENT POSITION: The American Dental Association and various agenciesof the U.S. Government still support the use of amalgam dental fillings. They claim they are safe based on 150 years of use and that there is no scientific evidence showing mercury exposure from dental fillings causes any known disease.

SHOULD YOU OR YOUR CHILDREN HAVE MERCURY FILLINGS PUT IN YOUR TEETH?
THAT IS A DECISION ONLY YOU CAN MAKE.
YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF CHOICE AND INFORMED CONSENT.
IF YOU WISH MORE INFORMATION ON THE SUBJECT PLEASE ASK ANY STAFF MEMBER