The Ticking Time Bomb

Could you have one in your mouth?

When I recommend that a silver/mercury filling be replaced, I’m often asked, “Can it wait?”

After all, why do something when nothing is hurting or bothering you? I get it.

The reason that silver/mercury fillings might be little ticking time bombs ready to cause discomfort and ruin your chewing ability has to do with the material which, although strong, does corrode and expand in the tooth. It contributes to a tooth’s weakness.

Did you know that the most common emergencies we see in the office are broken teeth? And, that almost all of those teeth had, at one time, silver/mercury fillings in them?

Of course, these things never happen at a convenient time. Often, it’s just before a vacation!

How can you tell that an old filling needs to be replaced?

Actually, the better question is how can you tell if it needs to be replaced BEFORE it causes a problem like sensitivity to temperature or chewing? 

Certainly, you want to avoid this:


This person was told in 2011 that the filling above needed to be replaced. But, it didn’t hurt and so he ignored the recommendation. Then, one day 2 weeks ago, as he was eating dinner, he felt something hard in his mouth. It was a chunk of his tooth.

Fortunately, the tooth can be saved by placing a cap on it. He was lucky. Sometimes, more significant (and expensive) treatment is required. Sometimes the tooth cannot be saved and has to be removed. We are actually seeing this more often because people seem to be clenching their teeth more and putting more stress on their teeth.

Let’s go back to how WE know when an old silver/mercury filling requires replacement.  

We use our technology to see under and alongside the filling. In some instances we use x-rays. More commonly today, we use a special light and camera system that allows us to see deterioration before it would even show up on an x-ray and before you have symptoms.

Personally, I find preventing problems more satisfying than treating the aftermath. I bet you’d prefer that, as well.

So, if a recommendation of replacing an old filling is given, please don’t wait 6 years. Do it as soon as you can.

I actually do own a crystal ball as part of my crystal/mineral collection. When I’m asked, “When does it need to be done?” I avoid using it.  

My best advice is do what you can to prevent problems. We want to help.

To everyone’s excellent health and wellness,