At the Dental Design Studio, we see ourselves primarily as health care providers who can also provide you with a superior cosmetic result. A large proportion of our work is involved with replacing the obsolete materials and techniques of dentistry done with non-precious metals such as zinc and nickel and heavey metals such as mercury.
Is the mercury in my mouth poisoning me?
At the Dental Design Studio, our philosophy is that we won't do anything to one of our guests that we wouldn't do to ourselves or our family. Needless to say, we would never use mercury to restore our own teeth and therefore, we would never use it in your teeth either.
Even though the scientific research has yielded mixed results, there is evidence that demonstrates that there is definitely leakage from the mercury. The research out of Western Europe is more extensive than what we have here in the US. And the general consensus is that given the fact that we have such improved materials and technology, why take the risk?
Should I replace my old mercury fillings?
We answer that question with a hearty 'yes'! Not only are there serious questions about how old amalgam fillings effect your overall health, but they do serious damage to the structure of your teeth. As a matter of fact, the overwhelming cause for cracked and fractured teeth is the stress put on the tooth structure by old, broken down amalgam fillings. In most cases, fractures are already present and therefore the likelihood of more extensive treatment (and cost) is greatly increased.
But even when fractures are not visibly present, the overall health of a tooth is compromised by old mercury amalgam restorations. As these old fillings deteriorate, the metal filling begins to shrink creating what is called an 'open margin', or the space created between the old filling and the tooth. An open margin is like a major highway for bacteria to travel into the internal structure of the tooth and cause an infection. In some cases, the only options are endodontic therapy (root canal) or extraction.
As preventive dental professionals, our job is to make sure that you don't require more extensive treatment in the future. And the best way to reduce your risk for these much more involved, and expensive treatments, is to replace the old mercury fillings before they create more problems.
What are my options?
The good news is that the advancements of modern dental materials and techniques have provided us with viable and effective solutions to the problems caused by mercury fillings.
In some cases, small fillings can be replaced with composite resin material that is bonded to the tooth.
In most situations, the old filling must be removed and we find that there is decay beneath the old filling that couldn't be detected with an x-ray. When this is the case, or when there is a significant amount of the tooth structure involved, we replace the fillings with porcelain inlays or onlays.
Porcelain inlays/onlays are a wonderful option because not only is the material healthy and strong, but by using new materials along with modern techniques in adhesion dentistry, we can create a situation where the new restoration is actually bonded into the structure of the tooth. The result is a newer, healthier tooth that in many cases is even stronger than the original tooth.
How do the new fillings look?
This is one of the most rewarding aspects of replacing old, mercury fillings. In most cases, those old fillings have begun to turn black and they look as bad as they are unhealthy for you.
With composite resin and porcelain restorations, the shade can be matched to your natural teeth and you can't even tell that there is a filling in the tooth! Some people call them 'invisible fillings' because they look completely natural.
Will my insurance pay for replacement?
Unfortunately, the insurance industry is painfully behind the advancements that have been made in modern dentistry. As a matter of fact, on teeth that aren't visible, most insurance companies will still only pay for mercury fillings.
However, since there is usually rampant decay beneath those old fillings and the overall structure of the tooth is compromised, some insurance companies will provide an additional benefit if requested. Our Patient Care Coordinators can explain to you how to maximize your dental insurance benefits.
But is it really worth the cost?
Again, our opinion is 'why take the risk?' The fact is that mercury amalgam fillings are guaranteed to deteriorate.
The cost involved in having the tooth restored with new, healthy materials is usually about one-third the cost involved when more extensive treatment is required. We believe that for your health, replacing old mercury amalgam fillings is one of the best values and investments that you can make in your health. --