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The Dangers of Metal Fillings

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Traditional metal or mercury fillings are not only unattractive; they also present some significant dental and total health risks.

  Learn more about the dangers associated with metal fillings and about the new tooth-colored filling options available to you.

Not only are traditional metal fillings unattractive, but they are now believed to pose significant health risks, as well.  Metal fillings may release toxic chemicals into the blood, and they definitely cause more tooth damage than new, composite resin fillings. Composite fillings, also known as white or tooth-colored fillings, are rapidly becoming the restoration of choice for patients and dentists alike.

Silver fillings are actually an amalgam material composed of up to fifty percent mercury, a metal that has been found to be more toxic than arsenic, lead, or cadmium. Mercury can leak from metal fillings over time, exposing the body to this toxic substance.  Some doctors believe that even small amounts of mercury in body can lead to physical and psychological problems such as birth effects, mental disorders, and some neurodegenerative diseases. While the debate concerning the safety of metal fillings is ongoing, many dentists have stopped using this material and switched to a resin composite material.

Not only do metal fillings present a risk to the patient's health, but they also have the potential to cause tooth breakage.  The metal in fillings expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations, and this can cause already weak teeth to crack.  Often, a dental crown or even tooth extraction is the only solution when this happens.

Health risks aside, the main reason most patients opt for white or tooth-colored fillings is aesthetic:  these fillings are crafted to match the color of natural teeth so closely that they are virtually undetectable. While the debate as to the safety of metal filings continues, dental insurance companies still consider white resin fillings to be an elective cosmetic choice, so white fillings are not usually covered by dental insurance plans. Still, many patients find that the added cost is worth it because tooth-colored fillings are not only the safer, but the more attractive restoration option.

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