My dentist has gone mercury-free, apparently. I’ve been seeing the same guy for like 20 years and he’s placed several metal fillings on my back teeth. This past time, he did the white kind, which I thought was pretty cool and would be healthier. But, like a week later, the dang thing fell out. I went back in a second time. That one lasted two weeks before it fell out. He ended up giving me another metal one after all and it’s holding well. What gives? Are amalgam fillings really that much stronger than composites?
It is actually very good for his patients that your dentist is trying to go mercury-free with fillings. However, the bonding technique is completely different than the amalgam fillings your dentist is used to placing. This is likely why your composite fillings fell out. He’s still learning. Though, we all have a beginning at new skills, so don’t be too hard on him. In fact, the best dentists are constantly learning and upgrading their skills.
Composites Are Just as Strong as Amalgam Fillings
There’s lots of research on the topic. The two types of filling materials are about equal in terms of the strength of the material and how much force they can handle. That being said, there is a strength advantage to the white filling.
Mercury-Free Fillings Strengthen Your Teeth
The biggest difference is in how the two “attach” to the tooth. With composites, the dentist removes any decay, preps the tooth, etches the surface a bit, and then binds the material to the tooth. It’s a close bond. Amalgams don’t work that way. The dentist actually has to cut a small notch or reservoir for the amalgam to flow into. When it hardens, it’s locked in. Because composites don’t require that extra little notch, more of your natural tooth stays intact, which keeps it stronger in the long run.
Why Your Filling Could be Falling Out
Very specific conditions need to be met in order for composite to bond correctly. For example, if there’s any moisture at all, the bond will be weak and fail. This can cause a filling to fall out. Sometimes, the way the filling is done can be problematic too. It’s going to be a lot harder to get a filling on something like the tip of a front tooth to stay put than it is to make one work on the biting surface of one of your molars.
If White Fillings are Important to You
If you’re fine with the silver amalgam fillings, then just keep it. However, if you want to get the composite filling in the future, you can let your dentist know. Hopefully, he’ll continue to work on his skill with this procedure. If he decides to stay with amalgam fillings, you may need to switch to a dentist who already has the skills.
This blog is brought to you by Huntsville Dentist Dr. Steve Murphree.