Are Composite Fillings Safe for My Health?

Brunette woman smiles before receiving a safe tooth-colored composite filling at the dentist

For more than 150 years, dental amalgam fillings have been used to treat cavities. Dental amalgam consists of liquid mercury bound to a powdered alloy of silver, tin, and copper. Fillings made of dental amalgam are often called “silver fillings” because of their coloring. These fillings are relatively inexpensive and durable, but they do release a low level of mercury vapor that can be absorbed by the lungs. Exposure to high levels of mercury vapor has been shown to adversely affect brain and kidney function. Compared to dental amalgam, many patients prefer composite fillings.

There’s some concern that the mercury vapor released by dental amalgam fillings may put patients at potential risk for neurotoxic effects. And some patients are allergic to the metals. But is there anything you should be concerned about when it comes to composite fillings?

The Material of Composite Fillings

Composite resin fillings are a popular alternative to silver fillings. They are made of a plastic substance called acrylic resin that is reinforced with powdered glass quartz, silica, or other ceramic particles. The mixture of these materials allows for a beautiful coloring that closely matches your natural tooth color.

These “tooth-colored” or “white” fillings are desirable for several reasons. For one, their shade is customized to blend in with a patient’s natural tooth color, making them significantly less noticeable than silver fillings. They are strong and their placement allows for much of the original tooth to be preserved. Additionally, they do not contain mercury.

The Presence of BPA

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical used in the manufacturing of some plastics. Some studies suggest this chemical can disrupt the proper functioning of the endocrine system. You may have heard concerns about the presence of BPA in dental materials, such as composite fillings, that contain plastics. However, not all composite fillings contain BPA. But if they do, the amount is very low.

According to the American Dental Association, there is not evidence to support the claim that the low levels of BPA in certain dental materials pose a potential health risk for patients. Though they do support ongoing research regarding the safety of BPA.

If you need a composite filling at our dental office, talk to us about the materials we use to ease your worries! And if you already have composite fillings that may contain BPA, you shouldn’t be worried about removing them. Removal would cause more trauma to your tooth than any potential benefit. Your fillings should only be replaced when they are worn out.

Treating Cavities to Protect Your Oral Health

If you have a cavity, the clear consensus is that it’s worse for your health to leave it untreated. Getting a composite filling can help you avoid further damage and even infection. It’s important to remember this if you’re debating whether or not to get a dental filling. You’ll be risking your oral health with an untreated cavity!

Our skilled dentists at Hillstream Dental offer a variety of restorative dental services, including tooth-colored composite fillings. If you have any more questions about the safety, purpose, or benefits of composite fillings, we would be delighted to answer them for you. Contact us today!

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Hillstream Dental

Hillstream Dental