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Amalgam, or silver colored fillings, contain mercury; which has been a point of contention and lead to many controversial debates. While large quantities of elemental mercury are certainly bad for you, the amount in fillings is not. As with many things in life, we must weight the "pros" vs. the "cons." Amalgam has been one of the longest used filling materials of all time with great clinical success. And for all those decades there has been no solid evidence of mercury poisoning from amalgam fillings.
Mercury in Fillings
This is largely due to the fact that the mercury is amalgamated (mixed) with the other components to form a solid and stable chemical bond that renders the mercury inert. At this point, no traceable amount of mercury is able to chemically interact with your body. So not only has amalgam proven to be safe over the years, but I (Dr. Nelson) also have amalgam fillings in my own teeth! Not only that, but the American Dental Association supports it's use (click here for information for dentists and here for information for patients).
That being said there are two times where there is a minor risk for mercury exposure: as the filling is being placed and hardening (finishing the reaction that sets the filling up) and when these fillings need to be removed (small amounts of vapor). Fortunately, these are easily avoided by the use of a rubber dam. A rubber dam allows for isolation of the teeth from the rest of the mouth and makes it easy to clear away any excess amalgam during placement or removal.
Dental Cleanings in Missoula
But that still doesn't answer the question! The answer is yes, we offer composite (tooth colored) and gold (also called "inlays" instead of "fillings") fillings that have no mercury in them. I believe that amalgam and composite both have their indications in different situations, and I love having these different "tools" in my metaphorical toolbox to help me provide the best treatment for my patients. So don't hesitate to ask me about which option is best for you.
It depends. But typically right away if you'd like. Let's break down the details though:
- Routine Cleaning: You're in the clear to eat right away. However, if you needed fluoride varnish, then stay away from hot liquids for the next half hour (sorry coffee drinkers!).
- Gum Therapy: You might have needed to get numb for this, be really careful to not bite your lip, cheeks, or tongue!
- Tooth-Colored Composite Filling: We use a special "flashlight" to cure the composite as hard as it's going to get, so you're safe to use it like regular.
- Silver-Colored Amalgam Filling: These take time to harden completely. When you leave they are pretty hard, but you should still "baby" them with soft foods for the next 24 hours.
- Temporary Crowns: These are... well... temporary. So they're not meant to be as rugged as the permanent crown. This means that they come off easier (which is good for when we want to replace them with the permanent) and they're not as strong. So extra care must be given to avoid sticky and hard foods.
- Permanent Crowns: These are tough and pretty, the only thing to remember is that the cement usually needs some time to completely set. Avoid sticky foods for the rest of the day.
Dental Services in Missoula MT
Give our team a call today to get to know our friendly dental team, and book a cleaning, exam, or consultation! We are currently accepting new patients.
As a general dentist I do not, by default, have a specialty. However, there are some dental procedures that I have worked extra hard to become very proficient at in addition to routine dental work. I have taken advanced training with world renown instructors in cosmetic dentistry, occlusion (how your teeth bite and function together), and composite (tooth-colored filling material) artistry using advanced layering techniques. My goal is to provide my patients with restorative dental work that appears indistinguishable to natural teeth, to not only the patient but to other dentists. It's actually not too hard to make something that looks white and roughly the same shape as a tooth, but the artistic challenge to recreate natural beauty is very rewarding.
As an FYI there are nine recognized specialties by the American Dental Association (ADA):
Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontics, and Prosthodontics.
Nearly all of these specialties require additional schooling above and beyond dental school. Some even require a residency. Perhaps the most intensive training is for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery where the specialist goes through dental school, medical school, and also a residency--that's a lot of schooling!