At one time, metal fillings were the only choice to repair tooth decay. Now, many dentists have switched to composite resin fillings, which match natural-tooth color so they don’t compromise the appearance of your smile. Tooth-colored fillings have gained popularity, and many dentists only offer this option. In recent years, there has been a strong push to eliminate amalgam fillings all together.
Amalgam fillings are made of several metals, with up to a 50 percent composition of mercury. It is widely known that mercury is toxic to the body. Some of the concern about amalgam fillings is the affect mercury has on the body, including:
- Causing damage to the kidneys
- Contributing to infertility
- Impacting the nervous system
- Interfering with the function of the thyroid and pituitary glands
- Posing unknown risk to a fetus
- Weakening the immune system
Because each person is different, you may have no reaction to the amalgam fillings. Over time, though, these restorations may change shape or crack, which can cause them to leak. If the fillings don’t hold up, the area may become susceptible to additional damage or decay.
At your checkup, have the dentist evaluate any old fillings to make sure they are still in good condition. You can also discuss the benefits of replacing amalgams with composite fillings. The newer restorations blend with your natural tooth coloring and require less removal of health tooth structure, which allows for a more conservative repair.