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Silver Fillings vs. Porcelain Fillings

Santa Monica • Beverly Hills • Los Angeles

Treating Patients in Los Angeles, CA from All Over the United States and the World

Silver fillings have been used for many years and have been highly effective. They last a long time, work very well and are strong.


Silver fillings have been used for many years and have been highly effective. They last a long time, work very well and are strong.

More Mercury from a Tuna Sandwich

Silver fillings or Amalgam fillings are alloys of various metals, but usually 50% of the alloy is mercury. This mercury is bound to the other alloys in the amalgam and because it is bound to other alloys, it does not leak out of the fillings very much. In fact, Dr. Sam Muslin has read that we are exposed to more mercury in a tuna sandwich than we are with the sliver fillings. However, mercury is toxic at small levels and Sam Muslin DDS, Master of the Academy of General Dentistry, has not placed a silver filling in many years. Dr Sam Muslin does not eat a lot of tuna either.

Silver Fillings And Corrosion

As the fillings age, they begin to corrode. The longer they are left in the tooth, the more damage can occur. Dr. Muslin has found that silver fillings that are large such as these fillings, will crack the teeth because the expand and contract greater than the tooth. So, when we drink hot foods the silver will expand greater than the tooth causing the tooth to crack over time. It stands to reason that silver fillings should be replaced, at a minimum, with composite or porcelain fillings.

Cracked Teeth

Cracked teeth will hurt with a sharp pain when you bite. It is very noticeable because the pain is quick, sharp and usually goes away quickly. Once the nerve gets involved the tooth can become hot and cold sensitive..

Hot And Cold Tooth Sensitivity

There are a lot of reasons for sensitivity of a cavity under the silver filling. Many of these cavities do not show up clearly on an x-ray and some digital x-rays are not as high a quality as film type x-rays so decay can be missed. If the decay gets too deep, the bacteria which cause decay can get into the nerve of your tooth causing an infection and eventually an abscess.

Silver Fillings And Porcelain Crowns

 Amalgam silver fillings and porcelain crowns

When a large silver filling and all of the decay is removed, the hole in your tooth can be huge. Generally, the huge hole is filled with a build up material and then the tooth is crowned to add strength

Porcelain Crowns or Gold Crowns are used to add structural strength to your tooth so you can chew and bite hot and cold with power for many more years. Sometimes a half crown or partial crown can be made to save the remaining tooth structure. You and your dentist need to discuss and decide the best care for you.

Porcelain Fillings - Also called Porcelain Inlays or Porcelain Onlays

Do not confuse porcelain fillings with composite fillings. Both are tooth colored but porcelain fillings are more durable, add strength to the tooth, retain their original color, maintain the height of your bite (this is very important) and almost disappear inside your tooth. You can't see them. Porcelain fillings are heat fired porcelain, ground from a block of porcelain such as Cerec or pressed into shape as with Empress or Sculpture Fibercore, and the prefered choice of replacing amalgam or silver fillings.

Composite fillings done in one visit wear down, stain and discolor, are weaker and don't last as long. Composite fillings are made of chips of porcelain mixed in plastic. They are obviously less expensive to receive. Porcelain fillings are the better dental treatment and hold better cosmetic dental appeal as they retain their original color.

Dr. Sam Muslin recommends that composite fillings be utilized in very small cavities in the molars and can be placed in larger cavities in the bicuspids and incisors. If a large composite is placed in multiple molar teeth, your bite can slowly collapse as the molar teeth wear down. I recommend gold or porcelain in the molar teeth for large cavities.

Sam Muslin DDS, MAGD

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