Leaking Amalgam Fillings: Could My Health Be at Risk?

Amalgam fillings, commonly known as silver fillings, have been a mainstay in dentistry for decades due to their longevity and affordability. Composed of a blend of metals, including mercury, silver, tin, and copper, amalgam fillings offer a strong solution for treating decayed teeth.

However, questions have arisen regarding potential health implications associated with leaking amalgam fillings. In this article, we will look at the potential risks, symptoms, and necessary steps if you suspect your filling is leaking.

What are Amalgam Fillings?

Amalgam fillings consist of a combination of metals that create a durable material for repairing cavities. There’s no doubt that some dentists and patients opt to get amalgam fillings as they have been a trusted choice for dental restorations due to their strength and cost-effectiveness.

While advancements in dental technology have introduced alternative materials such as composite resins, amalgam fillings remain widely used due to their proven track record.

What Does “Leaking Amalgam Fillings” Mean? 

Now that we have established the used of amalgams and its components, let’s dive in to what “leaking amalgam” means. Many people can benefit from amalgam fillings to cover up cavities that result from tooth decay. However, problems may arise when these covers are unintentionally removed or becomes “leaky”.

Here are some signs that may indicate your amalgam filling is leaking:

Pain or Sensitivity

Pain or heightened sensitivity in the tooth with an amalgam filling, especially when consuming hot or cold foods, may suggest a leak. This discomfort may become more pronounced when eating or drinking hot or cold foods and beverages.

Visible Damage

Look for visible signs of damage to your filling, such as cracks, chips, or deterioration. These signs may indicate that the filling is compromised and no longer provides an adequate seal.

The purpose of filling up cavities with amalgam is to prevent decay from spreading. When leaky fillings happen, the tooth is no longer sealed properly, causing food, water, saliva and bacteria can pass through those tiny cracks and holes. This can result in tooth decay forming underneath the filling. 

If the decay has not been taken care of, this can make the tooth become weaker as time goes by, resulting in far more complicated problems, like the filling falling out, toothache from nerve damage, or tooth splitting in half. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult with your dentist for professional dental advice as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

What Causes Amalgam Fillings to Leak?

Amalgam fillings can deteriorate over time due to various factors. Understanding these causes can help you take preventive measures and seek appropriate treatment if necessary:

  • Wear and Tear: Over time, amalgam fillings can wear down from normal chewing and grinding, leading to cracks or fractures in the filling.
  • Temperature Changes: The expansion and contraction of metal fillings in response to hot and cold temperatures can cause them to crack or break.
  • Age: As amalgam fillings age, they may begin to break down, leading to leaks.
  • Improper Placement: In rare cases, amalgam fillings may leak due to improper placement or application during the dental procedure. This can lead to gaps or areas where the filling does not adequately seal the tooth.

What to Do If Your Amalgam Filling is Leaking?

If you suspect your amalgam filling is leaking, take the following steps:

  1. Contact Your Dentist: Reach out to your dentist as soon as possible for an evaluation. They can assess the condition of your filling and recommend appropriate treatment.
  2. Consider Replacement: Depending on the extent of the damage, your dentist may suggest replacing the amalgam filling with a different material, such as a porcelain crown
  3. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Proper brushing and flossing can help prevent further complications and maintain overall oral health.
  4. Monitor Symptoms: Pay attention to any changes in your symptoms and keep your dentist informed.

Preventing Leaking Amalgam Fillings

Leaking amalgam fillings may happen even without your control. To prevent leaking amalgam fillings from happening, taking a proactive approach to your oral health can save you from getting distressed. Here are some of the things you can do to ensure your amalgams are in good condition:

  • Regular Dental Check-ups: Schedule regular visits with your dentist for professional cleanings and check-ups. This will allow your dentist to monitor the condition of your fillings and address any issues early before they worsen.
  • Avoid Excessive Chewing: Avoid chewing on hard objects or using your teeth as tools, as this can cause wear and tear on your fillings. Putting your newly treated teeth on excessive stress will lead to leakage.
  • Maintain Excellent Oral Hygiene: Brushing and flossing regularly can help protect your fillings and overall oral health.

A Proactive Approach to Your Dental Health

Amalgam fillings are great solutions to dental cavities. However, there can be a potential for it to leak because of different factors, like wear and tear, temperature changes, age, and improper placement. Be sure to be proactive on your oral health to prevent leaking amalgams that can potentially cause serious damage. 

Remember, your dentist is your best resource for any concerns about amalgam fillings. They can provide personalised advice and treatment options to ensure your dental health remains on track.

Schedule your next dental visit with Whitehorse Dental to keep your oral health in top shape and ensure your smile remains bright and healthy for years to come. If you feel like you’re amalgam is leaking or have a dental emergency, and you happen to be in Blackburn, VIC, call us now at +61 3 8838 8820 to have one of our dental experts intervene right away.