Is Silver Filling Replacement a Good Idea?

Sometimes a patient will ask if silver fillings can cause mercury poisoning and an accompanying list of scary diseases. We understand how important it is to maintain your health. So, we’re going to address this and also some other things about silver fillings.

What the studies show about mercury poisoning

The American Dental Association, citing studies by the Alzheimer's Association, the International Journal of Dentistry, the Lupus Foundation, the Mayo Clinic, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and others. You can read more about that here.

What patients say about silver fillings

Patients aren’t thrilled with silver fillings because they’re generally less attractive than their white counterparts.  They can be distracting when a person sings, laughs, or yawns. (Although our patients cover their mouth when they yawn!) They can also be the site of some troublesome problems, which brings us to the crux of the matter:

What dentists say about silver fillings

The difference between silver and white filling is that the newer white material fillings bond directly with teeth, making them a superior product. The old silver fillings were, well, kind of like a patch in the road. As a result, the old silver fillings can sometimes expand with time and even be a source of new decay. Dentists call this expansion ‘creep,’ but it doesn’t always cause further deterioration or additional decay. 

So, what is the answer? Part of it is what is actively happening in an individual patient’s mouth. Taking a look at silver fillings when and if they become a problem is the most conservative dental practice. Because why would you take something out if it’s working fine? Well, there are reasons.

Cosmetic enhancement

Sometimes a person will have metal fillings, and the look of them will affect the patient’s sense of self-esteem. In a situation like that, there needs to be a dialogue between the patient and dentist to address that problem.

Why not?

If a tooth already has a metal filling in it, why not just replace it with a better white one? For a couple of reasons: first, digging out a working filling is going to require some excavation, which may compromise the whole structure of the tooth and make a crown necessary.

Second, there is the cost of replacing fillings is part of the bigger picture. If a patient has a large number of silver fillings, replacing them all can run into some money. 

Your teeth and smile are a crucial part of your health and self-esteem. We are committed to giving our patients the tools they need to make informed decisions, and one of those decisions might mean replacing metal fillings because they are unsightly or causing problems, but not because they are poisonous.  Creating beautiful smiles and accompanying oral and general health is something we’re proud to be a part of and work toward with our patients.


If you need a gentle, caring dental team, please call our office at (623) 362-2550. We’ll give you the very best dental care we can!