Why should you replace old amalgam fillings?
It is unusual for both the Baby Boomer generation and Generation X to have visited the dentist and not had an amalgam filling placed. At the time of placement, amalgam was considered the most effective filling material due to its strength and it was very cost effective. Unfortunately what was not known at the time was how it would effect the tooth if left in the mouth without replacement.
Most patients hope that when a filling is placed it will last a life time and they will never need to see the dentist about it again. Unfortunately all dental treatments will need replacing. Composite white fillings should be replaced every five to six years and can even show significant wear after two years. Amalgam fillings should be replaced after five years as signs of cracking often appear five to ten years after they are placed.
Amalgam fillings are 50% mercury and as with a thermometer, the mercury expands and contracts inside your tooth with exposure to hot and cold temperatures. The enamel of a tooth is crystalline and is unable to withstand these moving forces for long periods of time.
The following pictures document patients who decided to have their amalgam fillings replaced, but unfortunately had left the decision too long. Both patients had no symptoms at the time of treatment, but if left any longer, bacteria would have penetrated through the large vertical cracks in the tooth and infected the nerve causing an abscess.