Replacing Amalgam Fillings

Woman in dental chair smiling in hand mirror

Once upon a time, almost everyone who needed a cavity filled got an amalgam filling—the common silver-colored kind of filling, which is made of a combination of silver, mercury, tin, copper, and other metals.

Millions of people across the country now have amalgam fillings in their teeth. However, in recent years, some have begun to wonder how safe it really is to have mercury in your teeth.

What Do Dentists Say?

Currently, there is no consensus about the safety of amalgam fillings. While it is true that amalgam filling release mercury vapor, the amount is safely below the FDA-accepted 0.4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. The American Dental Association continues to support the use of amalgam.

Still, some wonder whether it would be wise to replace their amalgam with composite resin fillings—a popular choice in recent years. Composite resin doesn’t contain mercury, and it is white rather than silver, so it blends in with your teeth.

Why Get Composite Replacements?

Generally, replacing silver amalgam with white composite fillings is not necessary or recommended. However, in some cases, there may be serious cosmetic problems with amalgam fillings. In other cases, the dentists may have poorly placed the amalgam filling or it may have received damage. In these situations, a dentist should replace the filling.


Besides the cosmetic improvement, composite fillings offer several advantages over amalgam, such as the following.

  • They are bonded to the tooth, which reinforces the remaining structure. This also prevents foreign material from wedging between the tooth and filling and creating cracks.
  • Composite fillings have smooth, bonded edges, which leave fewer nooks and crannies for plaque to accumulate and cause further tooth decay.
  • They conserve the tooth structure more effectively. The dentist removes less of the original tooth to create space for the filling.
  • Composite fillings are easy to repair. A dentist repairs chips in the filling by adding more composite material.
  • Composite fillings seal and protect the inner layer of the tooth, known as the dentin, from bacteria that causes decay.
  • They last longer than amalgam fillings.

If you’re concerned about the state or appearance of your existing fillings, schedule a consultation with Dental Partners of Boston, the practice that’s at the forefront of cosmetic dentistry in Boston. One of our experienced dentists will evaluate your situation and discuss the possibility of replacing your amalgam fillings.

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