The Daily Floss #6: The Dangers of Old Silver-Mercury Fillings

Dr. Carlos Meulener, DMD discusses the dangers of Silver-Mercury Fillings.

Chances are, your old mercury–silver amalgam-fillings (what many folks call “silver” fillings) are pretty far down on your list of things to worry about. They’re there and they don’t hurt, so they must be fine. Right?

Maybe. maybe not.

Some old fillings keep doing their job for years – even decades. Others, though, are ticking time bombs that can strike without warning, causing a world of pain and setting you up for a root canal or worse.1  

That’s something worth thinking about – especially if you have fillings that are 15 years old or older.

When Good Fillings go Bad

You see, fillings are subject to a lot more stress than you might imagine – from things like chewing hard foods, clenching your jaw when you’re angry or upset, even grinding your teeth in your sleep.

Over time, all that stress can cause some pretty significant damage, But the scary thing is you probably won’t feel a thing, or notice anything’s wrong…  until you’ve got a serious problem.

For starters, that stress can cause your filling to wear around the edges or pull away from the surrounding tooth enamel.2 That means food and bacteria can sneak in under the filling – creating new decay a (new “silent” cavity under your old filling!) that can even lead to abscess.3 (You don’t want to even think about how painful that can be.)  

We know from experience that replacing a filling with a larger one can severely weaken the remaining tooth structure – and that can set you up for more extensive and expensive fixes down the road.

Cracked and Fractured Teeth

If that’s not enough to worry you, how about the fact that old amalgam fillings can actually lead to cracked or even fractured teeth?

The problem actually started back when the original filling was placed.. To make sure the tooth could hold the Silver, some of it (including parts that are healthy) needs to be ground away. That makes the tooth a good bit weaker than it was.4

This weakness is then complicated by a simple bit of physics.

When you drink hot or cold liquids, your teeth expand and contract – and so do your amalgam fillings. The problem is, your teeth and fillings expand and contract at different rates, and that difference can lead to micro cracks and hairline fractures.

When you bite down on these cracks they open, irritating the pulp (the soft inside of the tooth that holds the nerves and blood vessels). Once this pulp is damaged, a root canal may be the only way to save the tooth.5

If the crack reaches deep through the roots and into the bone, you may need to have the tooth pulled and replaced by an expensive bridge or implant.

Protection and Peace of Mind

It’s important to remember that not all amalgam fillings cause problems. I’ve seen fillings 20 years old that were just fine. But they CAN be a serious problem – even if you have no symptoms at all.

So how do you know? By asking a dentist or hygienist to examine your old fillings under high magnification so they can see if there are problems and fix them BEFORE they require a root canal, bridge or extraction.

If you have any further questions please visit our website and watch a video on Dangers of Old Silver-Mercury Fillings. We are offering you our readers a free screening (Value $75.00) in our office if you want to check your old fillings under magnification. Offers expires August 15, 2012.

And remember your daily floss!

Carlos Meulener, DMD PA
4 Parker Ave.
Little Silver, NJ 07739




1.        “Does Your filling Need Replacing”, Journal of the American Dental Association, http://www.jada.ada.org
2.        Ibid.
3.        “Types of Dental Restorations,” http://www. WebMD.com
4.        “Treating Cavities with Fillings.” Cleveland Clinic, http://clevelandclinic.org
5.       “Do You Have a Cracked Tooth?” American Dental Association, http://www.ada.org
6.       Gems Insiders Circle Newsletter

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