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 In the past if you had a cavity, your only option was a metal filling. But today you have a more attractive option: tooth-colored composite fillings. The results are so remarkable that many patients wonder if they should proactively replace all their metal fillings with composites.

It’s a choice that patients should make in consultation with their St. Paul Family Dentist. We can explain the ins and outs of tooth-colored fillings as well as discuss when replacing metal fillings is appropriate.

Benefits of Composite Fillings

Composites are a relatively new choice, but one that has quickly climbed in popularity for a number of reasons. A prime consideration for many patients is appearance. Restorations with composites create a tooth-colored repair that blends in with other teeth, avoiding the harsh and unattractive appearance of metal.

But composites have other advantages as well. In addition to looking natural and visually blending in with other teeth, composites:

  • Do not contain mercury
  • Bond to the tooth and strengthen it
  • Require less of the tooth to be removed to place the filling
With so many advantages, you may be weighing the benefits of swapping out your metal fillings for this more attractive option.

Reasons to Replace Amalgam Fillings

If you are thinking about replacing metal fillings, here are typical reasons to update them:

Fractured Teeth: We see many patients with amalgam fillings who have cracks all around their teeth. Why? When a dentist removes the cavity and prepares the tooth for an amalgam filling, a certain amount of tooth structure must be – removed. With composite fillings, our dentist can be conservative, and we are "bonding" to the tooth - so it becomes stronger.

Age: All fillings get old and at some point need to be replaced. Loose fillings allow bacteria to invade a tooth and introduce new decay. If your metal fillings are old, now may be the perfect time to swap them for tooth-colored composite ones.

Leakage: Amalgam fillings are not bonded to tooth structure, so overtime saliva, food, bacteria can creep down the margin of the filing into the tooth and set up tooth decay.

Cosmetic Reasons: Metal fillings were designed for function, not beauty. But in our telegenic world, many people believe an attractive smile is an important benefit that tooth-colored fillings provide.

Please Contact Us for More Information

If you’d like more information about the removal of your tooth-colored fillings, please contact the St. Paul Family Dentist, and we’ll be happy to arrange a consultation.

Mercury fillings have been used for decades. Most likely you’ve heard reports that mercury fillings may be unsafe. St. Paul, MN General Dentist has practiced Mercury Free Dentistry for over 30 years. Our practice receives many requests from patients for removal of their old mercury fillings so they can be replaced with more attractive and tooth-colored fillings.

Dental fillings made of mercury can leak, permitting decay and discoloration of the tooth’s natural enamel. Fillings containing large amounts of mercury will expand and contract, and possibly lead to cracking or breaking of the tooth. This can be painful and most likely will demand costly and time-consuming dental treatment. It can take several visits to the dentist to restore the tooth. This includes placing of a dental crown and possibly root canal treatment. In more extreme cases, removal of the tooth may be required.

The good news is that advances in modern dentistry now offer safer and more cosmetically appealing options for replacement of old mercury fillings. This may include composite or tooth-colored fillings, as well as porcelain inlays and onlays.

The following steps will be taken when you arrive at our St. Paul, MN General Dentist office for removal of your mercury fillings:

  • A rubber dam will be placed in your mouth to prevent debris from being swallowed.
  • During removal we will use cold water to keep the mercury cool and prevent possible release of mercury vapors.
  • The filling is removed in chunks since drilling the mercury increases the chance of releasing harmful vapors.
  • High-volume vacuum equipment is used to remove airborne particles of mercury and its vapor.
The air in the treatment room is filtered to capture airborne mercury vapor and other contaminants. You will be given a nasal hood to eliminate the possibility of inhaling harmful mercury vapors and airborne particles. On removal of the fillings, we dispose of all supplies used in the process. Your mouth is then rinsed thoroughly for at least ten seconds.

You do not have to live with unattractive and potentially harmful mercury fillings. If you are concerned about this issue, contact our office for a consultation to discuss your case and develop a treatment plan.

You have probably heard the controversy regarding the safety of mercury used in ‘silver’ amalgam fillings. St. Paul General Dentist has been a Mercury Free Dentist for nearly 30 years, and we see many patients who request removal of their amalgam fillings and replacement with tooth-colored composite fillings.

However, the concern over amalgam fillings relates to other problems as well. Amalgam fillings can leak, allowing decay and the dark color of the filling causes the surrounding natural enamel to take on a dark color. Large amalgam fillings expand and contract, causing the tooth to crack or break. If this occurs, it can be painful and will most likely require time-consuming and costly dental work. Several procedures may be needed to restore the tooth, including placement of a crown and root canal treatment. In extreme cases, the tooth may break in such a way that requires removal of the tooth.

Fortunately, modern dentistry provides safer, more aesthetically-pleasing options for replacement of mercury fillings. These include composite or tooth-colored fillings, and porcelain inlays and onlays.

When you arrive at our Minneapolis Dentist Office for removal of your mercury fillings, we will take the following steps:

  • To prevent debris from the filling being swallowed, a rubber dam is placed in your mouth.
  • Cold water is used during removal to keep the amalgam cool and prevent release of mercury vapors.
  • Drilling away the amalgam increases the chance of releasing mercury vapors, so we “chunk" out the fillings.
Amalgam particles and mercury vapor are removed with high-volume vacuum equipment. The air in the treatment room is filtered to capture airborne mercury vapor and other contaminants. Our dental team wears dental masks, and you will be given a nasal hood with oxygen if you would like, to eliminate the chances of inhalation of mercury vapors or airborne particles.  Immediately after the fillings are removed we dispose of our masks, gloves and the rubber dam. Your entire mouth is then rinsed for at least ten seconds.
If you are concerned about the mercury fillings in your mouth for safety or aesthetic reasons, please contact our office for a consultation appointment. At that time we will assess your situation and recommend a treatment plan that includes removal of your amalgam fillings.

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