Should I Remove My Amalgam Fillings?

My dentist is suggesting I replace my amalgam fillings. He told me there is nothing wrong with them, but he thinks it is best to replace them with composite fillings. I am wondering if I really need to do this. I don’t have money right now, but he hinted they will go eventually and it’s better to change them when everything is okay. What is your opinion of this?


Dear Jenn,

Before and after mercury free fillings

No, you don’t have to change out these dental fillings. While I am grateful that your dentist was honest enough to tell you that there was nothing wrong with your fillings, I am suspicious of the low-key pressure he is putting on you to replace these fillings.

Composite fillings are better than amalgam fillings, but if they are not cracking and are not leaking it is not necessary. Your dentist could just keep an eye on them and then let you know when they truly needed to be replaced. It is not fair for him to pressure you like that.

If it gets to the point that you do need them replaced then I want you to make sure he knows how to do a sanitary amalgam removal. These silver amalgam fillings have mercury as their main ingredient. There are special procedures and equipment that need to be in place in order to keep you from inhaling any mercury vapors or swallowing any pieces of the filling.

If he doesn’t know the procedure for a sanitary amalgam removal, then look for a mercury-free dentist.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

Porcelain Crowns Turning Yellow

I had porcelain crowns made a little over six months ago. They were so beautiful and shiny when I first got them. Now, they are dull and turning yellow. Do you know what could have happened? I do everything I am supposed to. I brush. I floss. I don’t even drink coffee. I’d really like them to look like they looked six months ago.


Dear Laurie,

I want you to know this is not your fault. Porcelain crowns should last you several years. I can think of a couple of things that happened here, but you are going to need to have another dentist look at them to determine which one it is.

The first thing that comes to mind is an error on the part of the hygienist. You mentioned this happened a little after six months ago. That is long enough for you to go in for a cleaning appointment. If your hygienist used something like a power prophy jet, then it would have removed the glazing off the porcelain. This is what protects the crown from picking up stains and gives it that shiny look.

Another thing your hygienist could have used is acidulated fluoride which will also damage the glazing by etching it.

A second possibility is that your dentist told you that you were getting porcelain crowns, but actually gave you a different type of material that wears down and stains more quickly. It is not ethical, but there are dentists who do it.

Getting an Unbiased Second Opinion

Go to another dentist to get eyes on the dental crowns in order to find out the real problem. The key to getting a true, unbiased second opinion is to not tell the second opinion dentist who originally did the work. The dental world is a small world. It is very likely the two dentists know each other.

You don’t want the second opinion dentist to feel conflicted about saying something negative regarding a colleague’s work. If he asks who did the work, just tell him you want his unbiased opinion so you will keep the name of the dentist to yourself. He or she should understand that.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.