What I’ve learned:
If you’re going to have your old silver fillings replaced with nice white fillings (also known as “composite fillings”, “porcelain fillings” or “tooth colored fillings”), be prepared for a series of Crowns and Root Canals in your immediate future.
Here’s how things went for me…
The goal: No more mouth-full-of-silver whenever I smiled big.
The reality: Serious dental work in every quadrant of my mouth.
I didn’t do it because I was concerned about the amount of mercury in silver fillings.
And it wasn’t purely out of vanity that I chose to have all of my silver fillings replaced.
It was a well-thought out decision that I arrived at with the help of my dentist (whom I adore).
Why I Decided To Switch Out My Silver Fillings For White Ones
The problem was those “gray teeth” were in the front of my mouth, and as a result, it was starting to look like those teeth were dead or something. It wasn’t attractive, to say the least.
I’d had my eye on those two teeth for years, and I watched as the gray color became progressively darker.
In all, I had 7 silver fillings that needed to be replaced. The dentist decided to do them on two different days, that way only one side of my mouth would be numbed at a time.
As part of the process of removing the old silver fillings, 4 of my teeth had to be drilled practically down to the nub to make room for the new white fillings.
The other 3 had to be drilled down so far that they barely even resembled teeth anymore; they required Crowns.
Things I’ve Since Learned About Silver vs White Fillings
These are things that I’ve learned from the many different dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants who have had their hands in my mouth over the course of the past 11 months trying to fix this mess!…
- Back in the 70’s, dentists used to drill out way more “good” tooth than they needed to. They didn’t know better. That was just the way everyone did fillings at that time.
- Add to this the fact that when you’re replacing fillings, you have to first drill out all the old filling, plus a little more. This is to make sure you’ve got a good surface on which to adhere the new filling. (The same would be true with any form of dental work on a tooth with pre-existing dental work.)
- Whenever you drill that much tooth away, you’re opening up a whole new set of problems. Specifically… any cracks, nerve issues, hidden fractures, etc.
I look at it like this… In my case, after 30+ years of living with the same silver fillings (and having no other dental work besides fillings all those years), all of my teeth had comfortably found their own places inside my mouth. The nooks & crannies were all relative to one another, and everything was harmonious. But when I changed the shape, the contents, or the neighbor of one tooth (or, in my case 7 teeth!), then it messed up overall environment inside my mouth. All of the tiny changes that took place as a result of replacing the fillings forced my teeth to then re-settle and find a new “comfort zone” inside my mouth. Plus, all that “hollowing out” of my previously silver-filled teeth made those teeth extra vulnerable. Out of the blue, those teeth were now exposed to air, and gaps, and all-new (white) filling material. Not to mention the fact that the nerves inside those teeth had been awakened from their deep sleep.
- Then there’s the fact that white porcelain fillings have other disadvantages like they don’t seal the cavity as well, and they may also irritate the existing nerve within a tooth.
- To top it all off… I’m told that white porcelain fillings don’t last as long either. Get this: They need to be replaced every few years! I wish I’d know that before I switched out every filling in my mouth!!!
The Story Doesn’t End There…
UPDATE #1: Well, my story actually got much crazier. I had to get a series of crowns (I’ve had 3… or 4… actually, I’ve lost count) and root canals. Neither of which is very scary — unless things go wrong.
As a result of all this change of fillings, I had to have 4 root canals in less than 6 months — and one of them “went wrong”. The dentist (a different dentist than the one who did my fillings) simply didn’t get every bit of the root or nerve out of one tooth, so decay and pain were a huge problem for many long weeks. In the end, I had to have a second root canal on that same tooth! This time, I had to go to a different dental specialist who could “undo” the root canal that had previously been done (they use “permanent” cement-type sealants!), then go in deeper and get the remaining nerve.
That still resulted in many months (not weeks) of pain for some reason. And to this day, I have still a lot of sensitivity in that tooth. How… when I supposedly don’t have any nerve left in that tooth, I don’t understand. But the feeling is there, trust me.
Looks like I’m not the only one this has happened to!. Heck, even Johnny Depp had to have a double root canal during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean!
UPDATE #2: I shouldn’t be so quick to say that all who switch their silver fillings for white ones are doing so because they want to look better. I did it for that reason, but there are reasons to replace your silver fillings that have nothing to do with vanity and everything to do with the levels of mercury found inside silver fillings — and therefore inside your body — yes, very close to your brain! (See videos of this mom’s journey after learning the danger associated with the amalgam fillings inside her mouth.)