There are a number of reasons why it may be necessary to remove amalgam fillings. Over time, the forces from chewing and biting may lead to cracks in the filling, resulting in small gaps where debris and saliva can gather, causing sensitivity, tooth decay and amalgam removal. Another issue is the health controversy surrounding the use of amalgam fillings because they contain mercury - a highly toxic substance. Scientists and health care professionals are divided as to whether mercury contained in fillings poses significant health risks to either patients or to dentists. In any case, it isdesirable to remove silver fillings and replace with white fillings, purely from an aesthetic point ofview. Having your mercury fillings removed for this reason alone may be your prime factor if you are considering undergoing removal of amalgam fillings in the future.
How do they remove amalgam fillings?
Silver fillings removal is a relatively straightforward process, and your dentist adopts a number of practices to remove silver fillings safely. Your dentist will first numb the area surrounding the affected tooth with a local anaesthetic.
Amalgam removal necessitates the use of a drill which your dentist will use to break-up and dislodge the filling. This generates a substantial amount of heat, leading to an increase in the amount of mercury released, as both amalgam particles and vapor. Your dentist will use cold water to keep the filling cool during the process enabling the safe removal of amalgam fillings as itsignificantly decreases the levels of mercury vapor.
Another technique your dentist will use is known as 'chunking'. This uses the drill to break the amalgam into pieces, which may then be removed by suction or a hand instrument. A suction instrument or high volume evacuator is then used to clear away the debris. Your dentist may also use a rubber dam to isolate the tooth during silver fillings removal to prevent debris from falling into other parts of the mouth.
After the safe removal of amalgam fillings and cleaning, your tooth is ready to receive a new filling.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Notwithstanding health controversies, the advantages of having mercury fillings removed are that they are less attractive than tooth-colored composite fillings; the mercury in the filling is susceptible to heat and cold, causing it to expand and contract, which may result in a tooth fracture and silver fillings do eventually break down and corrode leading to tooth decay.
The disadvantages of having mercury fillings removed is that amalgam tends to last longer than composite resin and are considerably less expensive.
If you are considering having your silver fillings removed, it is best to consult your dentist who will advise you of the alternatives available and the most suitable options for your circumstances.
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