How to Decide?
Answer the following questions:
- Do you firmly believe that you suffer from symptoms of mercury toxicity?
- Do you absolutely require having a perfect smile and can’t afford to show any metal when smiling?
- Are you prepared to do a crown or root canal should one or two of your teeth end up requiring one after the replacement?
- Would you be willing to pay for inlays, onlays and other forms of crowns for the larger silver fillings where a white filling is not a recommended replacement? These may cost up to $1,000 per tooth.
- Are your existing silver fillings quite old and most likely due replacement?
- You don’t have very sensitive teeth to begin with correct? “no” means your teeth are indeed very sensitive to hot and cold.
If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then you should consider replacing your silver fillings with white ones. If you strongly believe that there are serious health risks associated with having mercury within dental fillings or if you blame them for your health vows then we are not going to dissuade you from having them replaced. We have come across patients that claim their overall health has improved after they replaced their silver fillings with white ones but there is no scientific evidence to support this.
If you answered “no” to most of the above questions then you are probably better off leaving the silver fillings alone unless one of them is cracked or has a cavity on it.
The main reason we warn against replacing all of your silver fillings replaced with white ones is because of the high level of risks associated with this treatment. There is always the probability of developing sensitivity and pain which could last for months or may lead up to your teeth requiring crowns and root canals. And no one wants that! Keep in mind that there are still billions of people out there living with silver fillings in their mouthed that do just fine. Of course replacing the silver fillings with white ones will eliminate the risks associated with mercury and may improve your smile a bit as well, but first you have to decide if it is worth the risks to you.
The biggest issue with replacing silver fillings with white ones is the possibility of ending up with sensitivity or pain. But this is more likely to occur when larger fillings are being replaced. Replacing small fillings has little to no risks since these filling don’t sit too close to the tooth nerve and you won’t risk undermining your tooth structure either. So if you have a few small silver fillings left in your mouth then replacing them should be safe and easy and you shouldn’t worry yourself too much over the risks and complications.
What is the best approach to having multiple silver fillings replaced with white ones? It is best to talk to your dentist to start planning this accordingly as it is almost always best to replace only a few fillings at a time. This will ensure that you won’t end up with pain or infections on multiple teeth at the same time. Try starting with the smaller fillings and gradually work your way up to the larger and more risky ones. If you do have dental insurance, try and leave some benefits aside for just in case you do end up needing that dreaded root canal after all. You might even want to consider replacing the silver fillings gradually over the course of one to three years if you are not in any rush.
NEXT >> Replacing All the Silver Fillings
Should I Replace All My Silver Fillings: Leaving The Fillings Alone
1. There is a likelihood of developing sensitivity when replacing silver fillings with white ones. Every time an older filling is removed and replaced with a newer one it becomes a bit larger and a little closer to the tooth nerves. Replacing older silver fillings with newer white ones can lead to teeth sensitivity. This may be temporary and last for several weeks or months but occasionally it may linger and not go away until additional treatment is rendered to the tooth.
2. You may end up requiring a root canal or crown. Replacing silver fillings with white ones may lead to sensitivity. But sometimes you will develop more than just sensitivity and you could end up with a toothache that doesn’t improve with time. It this occurs you will probably require a crown or a root canal to fix the painful tooth.
- If the tooth is tender to chewing and bite pressure then the cause of the sensitivity is most likely the weakening of tooth structure due to being undermined by a large filling and you most likely will require a crown. This type of pain tends to be mild to moderate and is typically intermittent and aggravated upon biting or chewing on the tooth.
- If you are in a lot of pain most likely the nerve was damaged during the removal and replacement of the silver filling and you will require a root canal as well as a crown to treat this. This type of pain tends to be severe and throbbing and is constant and lingering and you usually find yourself having to take pain killers for it.
As you can see a single unsuccessful filling replacement can cause some serious aggravation along with a hefty bill!
3. It is expensive and time consuming to replace all your silver fillings. Replacing a series of old fillings can cost quite a bit. The more experienced dentists will probably offer you more expensive options such as inlays or onlays over traditional white fillings to reduce the risks of pain and sensitivity and avoid unnecessary root canal treatments. This could make it very expensive to have all of your silver fillings replaced. And depending on the number of fillings that need replacement, you will probably be looking at a good number of visits to have the entire treatment completed.
Helpful hint – Having dental insurance will not help much in these cases. Replacing silver fillings just to improve ones look is considered a cosmetic treatment rather than a medical necessity and will not be covered by your dental plan. However if there are a few fillings which have cracks or cavities on them, these will be covered. Generally speaking, if you are planning on replacing say a dozen silver fillings with white ones, two to four of them may qualify under the insurance guidelines but you will be held accountable for the remaining.
NEXT >> How to Decide?
Should I Replace All My Silver Fillings: Replacing All the Silver Fillings
How to Decide?
Answer the following questions:
- Is your cavity deep enough to trap food and bacteria? If your dentist can stick his or her instrument a few millimeters into the cavity then it probably is indeed deep enough to warrant treatment.
- Is your cavity visible within the mouth or on your X-rays? Your dentist may be able to show you certain cavities on the X-rays but keep in mind that not all cavities will show up here.
- Have you had cavities or other invasive dental restorations in the past?
- Are your teeth sensitive? Particularly to sweets.
- Do you fail to brush and floss as much as you should?
- Has it been a long time since you’ve last been to the dentist?
If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then you probably have cavities and need to get them fixed. Most of us develop our first set of cavities as a child, a teenager or in college when we eat more sweets and skip out on brushing and flossing. We then spend the rest of our lives redoing and replacing these fillings with new fillings and eventually more extensive and expensive dental restorations.
If you answered “no” to most of the above questions then maybe what you have is not a cavity after all. Consider asking your dentist for further explanation of the situation. If still not convinced then consider getting a second opinion elsewhere. If you’ve managed to get into your thirties without having had a single cavity, congratulations by the way, then the odds of you developing a new cavity now becomes very, very slim. So if you are all of a sudden diagnosed with a whole bunch of new cavities then you should be skeptical and seek a second opinion.
The main reason we prefer filling a cavity over monitoring is the peace of mind that comes with not having to worry about the cavity getting deeper and causing pain. It is not possible to determine when a cavity will become problematic and goes from being a simple cavity to becoming a painful root canal. Some cavities may be very small but can go in very deep and hit your tooth nerve without even showing up on your X-rays. To risk the possibility of ending up with a root canal in the future rather than having a filling done now doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in most circumstances.
helpful hint – What to do if you switch dentist and are confronted with cavities that did not exist before?
You might have had an exam with your dentist recently and everything checked out fine. All of a sudden you switch dentists due to relocation, insurance change or some other reason and your new dentist diagnoses you with a new cavity. If the new dentist detects a whole bunch of cavities you have the right to be skeptical. Start by asking your new dentist to point out the cavities for you to see. If still not convinced, then seek a second opinion for verification. However, a diagnosis of one or two new fillings is not that unusual. Different dentists may have different approaches and styles. Your previous dentist might have been monitoring or overlooking a problem that your new dentist would prefer to treat before if causes problems. As a result, situations with a few new cavities are usually reasonable whereas those with six or more cavities may be a sign of something not being right and you should consider getting a second opinion at this point.
NEXT >> Filling or Monitoring a Cavity: Filling the Cavity
Filling or Monitoring a Cavity: Monitoring the Cavity