Ask Dr. D: Do I need to replace my metal fillings?

Dear Dr. Diesburg:

Are white fillings better than metal fillings? I have about half a dozen metal fillings but I’d like white ones instead.


Dave in McMinnville


Dear Dave,

Long story short, you don’t have to remove metal fillings and replace them with composites (white fillings).

If you don’t like the way your metal fillings look, it is not unreasonable to change them out, but it’s not necessary. There are a lot of studies comparing the two, but we have more research about alloys because they have existed longer. But there are no 30-year studies about the kind of composites we use today. There is no solid scientific evidence that you need to remove metal fillings for your health.

As fillings deteriorate, I generally replace them with composites (white filling) because I can make a more aesthetic and functional filling with composites. Fillings fail because the pieces of teeth holding them in place break off. Because I don’t have to take away as much tooth to do a composite, it is generally a stronger tooth, more resistant to fracture. Some dentists will say that composites don’t last as long, but if placed well, a sealed bond (composite) is as effective as an alloy and looks much more like the natural tooth. This is a basic answer, and I will happily go deeper into the research at your next visit.

Happy brushing!

Dr. Adam Diesburg, Your McMinnville, Oregon Dentist

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