Dental fillings have been used to treat cavities for millennia, but the modern dental filling as we know it today has been around since as early as 1829. Back then, a mixture of different metals, including tin, silver, mercury, and copper, was used, but new materials were introduced over time.
Fillings have evolved a lot since then, even though the principle has stayed mostly the same. And while we have different filling materials, they all come with pros and cons.
Amalgam fillings were the first ever introduced to the modern world of dentistry, and they’re still pretty much the standard. But, in some cases, they require removal. How, when, and why do we do it? We have all the answers in the following paragraph, as well as a recommendation where to get it done should the need arise.
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What are the different types of fillings?
Nowadays, dentists can choose between a variety of different fillings they can use on their patients, and the type they will use depends on a couple of different factors. These factors include the size of the cavity that needs to be filled, where it’s located, and the patient’s preference or possible allergies.
Some standard types of fillings include:
- Composite fillings, made out of a glass mixture and tooth-colored plastic, are most commonly used for visible areas of the mouth and front teeth.
- Ceramic fillings, also sometimes referred to as porcelain flings, are a bit more expensive than other types but are very long-lasting and durable.
- Gold fillings, which are usually used for aesthetic purposes. They’re made out of gold, copper, and a mixture of other metals. They’re very durable but also expensive.
- Glass ionomer fillings, made out of a mix of glass and organic acids, are great at preventing future decay and are often used when filling children’s tooth cavities.
But, the most commonly used fillings to this day are amalgam fillings. They are made out of a mixture of metals, including mercury, silver, copper, and tin.
Why Do People Want to Remove Amalgam Fillings?
While they are generally considered safe and effective treatment against cavities, some dentists have raised concerns about these fillings over the years.
These concerns come from the presence of mercury within the fillings. Even though the amount of mercury found in the fillings is minuscule, it’s important to note that mercury is a toxic substance that can cause kidney, brain, and nervous system damage.
Of course, the potential damage of the mercury in amalgam fillings will vary from patient to patient. While it could cause damage for some people, for others, these fillings are completely harmless and can stay in their mouths for years to come.
For some people, removing amalgam fillings isn’t due to health concerns but simply aesthetic reasons. Typically, these fillings are metallic and silver-grey in appearance, which means they’re very visible and unappealing to most people.
How are amalgam fillings removed?
When a person decides they want to have an amalgam filling removed, they will go to a dental professional who will ensure the filling is removed as safely as possible.
There are five steps dentists take when removing an amalgam filling and certain techniques and tools that will minimize the patient’s exposure to mercury vapors.
Step 1 – Preparation
The first thing the dentist will do is examine the filling and tooth carefully so they can decide the best way to remove the amalgam filling. Once they complete the examination, they will isolate the tooth with a protective barrier such as a dental dam.
That is important because it allows the dentist to work comfortably without worrying if any particles or debris will enter the patient’s mouth. In some cases, the dentist will also use local anesthesia to ensure the patient doesn’t feel any pain, but this isn’t always the case.
Step 2 – Drilling
After the preparation for the procedure is complete, the dentist will remove the amalgam filling with a high-speed drill with water spray. This specific drill is used so the amount of heat that is generated during drilling is minimized. This is done to ensure the tooth or the surrounding tissue isn’t damaged in any way.
Step 3 – The removal of the filling
After the drilling is complete, the dentist will be able to remove the filling, which is done by using an amalgam separator or a dental suction device. Both of these methods work equally as well, and it’s up to the dental professional to decide which one is the better option.
Step 4 – Clean-up
After the filling is removed, there is still going to be some debris or residue left over, which the dentist will have to clean thoroughly before proceeding to the next step. They will use either a vacuum or a dental rinse to remove these particles.
Step 5 – Replacement
Finally, after the amalgam filling has been removed and the area around it is properly cleaned, the dentist will have to replace it with a filling made out of different materials so as to not leave a hole in the tooth. The patient and the dentist will talk over beforehand to decide which material should be used for the new filling.
Should you get your amalgam fillings removed?
If you’re thinking about getting your amalgam fillings removed, whether for health or aesthetic reasons, there are no downsides to that. In fact, it will only be a positive improvement. A great way to fix your smile and bring back your confidence is to do it with restorative dentistry in Lake Shore East Chicago.
In this clinic, you will get the best possible treatment and make any sort of dental modification you’re looking for. From amalgam filling removal to root canal therapy and everything in between, you can be sure you’re in good hands, and you will soon have your confident smile back.