What is a filling?
When bacterial decay is present, it must be removed, then the cavity is restored or “filled” with white composite material.
These types of fillings may also be called “bonded fillings” or “white composite restorations.”
We do not use mercury amalgam fillings and we only use composites that are both BPA-free and fluoride-free. (Many people are not aware of these additional safety concerns.)
What is a cavity?
“Cavity” is the common name for what professionals call tooth decay, or dental caries. Learn more →
What about when the cavities are larger?
When there is a lot of decay, additional procedures may be required:
If the decay undermines and weakens the natural tooth structure, we will reinforce the tooth with a biocompatible ceramic crown.
If the bacterial decay damages the nerve of the tooth, removal of the nerve with root canal therapy is required to retain the tooth.
Is it possible to replace amalgam fillings or remove mercury fillings?
Yes! When old amalgam fillings containing mercury need to be removed, we follow strict guidelines for procedural removal, office cleaning, and finally toxic waste disposal.
Minimizing heavy metal exposure is important for the safety of our patients, office team, and the environment, as old amalgam fillings contain approximately 50% mercury.
Our protocol for safe removal of silvery "mercury" amalgam fillings.
1. Keep the fillings cool during removal
Drilling out an amalgam filling generates a tremendous amount of heat, which causes a significant increase in the release of mercury, both as a vapor and in amalgam particles, during the entire removal process. Cooling the filling with excess water and air while drilling substantially reduces the amount of mercury vapor the filling releases.
2. Cutting the Amalgam into Chunks
We use a removal process that’s commonly referred to as chunking. This involves less drilling, because the dentist only drills enough to cut the filling into chunks, which can then be easily removed by a hand instrument or suction. Both chunking and keeping the filling cool during removal are very important.
3. Use a high-volume evacuator
We minimize your exposure to mercury vapor and amalgam particles with a powerful suction. The evacuator tip should be kept close to the filling during the entire time the filling is being removed. This helps capture more of the mercury vapor and particles.
4. Use a rubber dam
A rubber dam isolates the tooth or teeth being worked on and prevents amalgam particles from being swallowed.
5. We do not remove mercury amalgam fillings during pregnancy or nursing.