There are two types of material commonly used to fill cavities. One has been around since the 1840s. It is a paste made of silver and mercury, and it is about 50 percent mercury. Silver fillings saved countless teeth until the 1980s. Then technological breakthroughs made white composite filling materials durable enough to serve as fillings for back teeth. It is only since then that the phrase mercury-free dentist has emerged.
Advantages of a Mercury-Free Dentist
The photos here show the same set of teeth with amalgam and then white fillings.
Many people think that appearance is the only advantage of choosing white composite over silver amalgam fillings. But there are other, more important considerations. Composite fillings are bonded directly to your too structure, making it stronger. Amalgam fillings have the opposite effect. In addition, they seal nearby parts of the tooth, protecting it from further decay. And there is less tooth sensitivity with composite fillings.
However, one of the most important advantages is that with composite fillings, less drilling is required. This means that more of your natural tooth structure is preserved. The photos below give a representation—the tooth on the left has been prepared for an amalgam filling, and the one on the right for a composite filling.
Choosing a Mercury-Free Dentist
Even though composite fillings have been around for a long time, many dental schools still steer their students toward placing amalgam fillings on back teeth. This makes extra post-graduate training important. The method takes time to learn. It requires that the tooth be completely isolated. And the dentist must also study specialized bonding techniques. If the composite is not placed and bonded correctly, it can cause serious tooth sensitivity.
Dr. Steve Murphree has pursued extensive postdoctoral training in placing composite fillings in back teeth. He is also a sustaining member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, which requires him passing an examination that includes questions about these new bonding protocols.
If you need a filling, you can call our office or click here to complete our request an appointment page.