Tag Archives: composite fillings

Pain from Composite Filling

I recently had my first composite filling done. I sort of had to pressure my dentist into it because he usually places the old silver amalgam fillings. He finally relented and agreed. Since then, my tooth hurts when I chew. Oddly, it doesn’t hurt under normal circumstances. I can even clench my teeth and nothing. But, if I am chewing there is a sharp pain which lasts a second. Did my dentist do something wrong?


Dear Aaron,

While composite fillings are far superior to their amalgam dental filling compatriots, the procedure for bonding them is completely different. If your dentist does not normally place them, he will not be aware of the different techniques needed.

I wonder if you had a small filling placed. The pain you described is an unusual phenomenon we see mostly with small composite fillings. Fortunately, there is a way to prevent the problem, or in your case, fix the problem.

If a dentist uses either a self-etching primer or a glass ionomer base, we are seeing this issue practically eliminated. I would talk to your dentist about the problem and ask him to re-do the fillings using a glass ionomer base.

I am surprised your dentist is still almost exclusively placing amalgam fillings. Most dentists have moved on to the composite technology which is healthier for your teeth and contains no mercury. It may be time for you to find a dentist who is more interested in keeping up with the technology and advancements in his or her field.

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

Want to Change My Fillings But My Dentist Said No

I have four amalgam fillings. I just recently learned that they are made of mostly mercury. Apparently, I am the last person on earth to learn that. It really worries me and I wanted to switch out my fillings with the mercury for the white ones, which I am told do not have mercury. I talked to my dentist about it and he said I am worrying over nothing and the American Dental Association says they are safe. Because of that, he considers it an unnecessary procedure and won’t do it. Can he do that? Am I worrying over nothing?


Dear Lindsey,

Before and After Composite Fillings

I am certain you are not the last person on earth to learn about the high mercury content in their fillings, so don’t feel dumb about that. It is not really something that is advertised. As to whether your dentist can say “no”, he can. No one is forced to do a procedure they do not want to do. You can still have the procedure done, but I would not press him to do it for two reasons.

First, the removal process has to be done with a special procedure in order to protect you from inhaling or swallowing any mercury or mercury vapors. He would need to know this procedure as well as have the special tools necessary to keep you safe. The only reason for him to have these is if he does this type of procedure often. I highly doubt he will have the tools or even know how to do a sanitary amalgam removal.

A second issue is the process for placing those old amalgam fillings and the newer composite filling is completely different. He may not even know how to place the newer white fillings.

Should You Replace Your Amalgam Fillings?

What the American Dental Society has to say about the safety of amalgam fillings has nothing to do about your peace of mind. Many patients are obviously concerned with the idea of having mercury, a known toxin, in their mouths. That anxiety alone can cause you health problems.

Another thing to consider is that the fillings can eventually break down and even leak. That would be a health issue. You would want to replace the fillings before something like this happens.

If you want to replace them, you will need to find a dentist who understands how to do a sanitary amalgam removal. To find that, I would do an internet search for a mercury-free dentist. They only place white, composite fillings which means they will know the correct procedures to remove the amalgam fillings and properly place the composites.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.
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Pain with Composite Fillings

I had to get four fillings on my back teeth. One of them is fine, but three of them are giving me a lot of pain when I am chewing. The weird thing is there is not pain when I just bite down. it’s the chewing that is the problem. My dentist has checked the bite and says it is fine. Now she’s talking about removing the fillings and doing a root canal. I don’t want to do that if it is not necessary. I don’t want to lose teeth over small cavities. I feel like I need someone with more expertise here. What do you recommend I do?


Dear Evelyn,

Left: silver amalgam filling Right: mercury-free composite filling

I agree that you need someone with more expertise. When there is pain with chewing as opposed to pain with biting, the problem is the way the fillings were bonded on.

Most dental schools are still teaching dentists to put amalgam fillings on posterior teeth. Before that, they were only teaching amalgam fillings. Unfortunately, the method for placing amalgam (silver) and composite (white) fillings are quite different. If a dentist wants to place white fillings, they have to take post-doctoral training in the correct procedures to do so.

I would not have your dentist be the one to re-do these. First, three-fourths of them have this problem, which tells me she does not understand this bonding method. Second, she’s already bringing up a root canal treatment, which tells me she’s sort of giving up on these teeth.

My suggestion is you look for a mercury-free dentist. They will have much more experience placing white fillings on posterior teeth.

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

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.

Dentist Wants to Replace all My Fillings

I have quite a few fillings in my mouth and my dentist says they all need to be replaced. I’m having a hard time fathoming that they all need to be replaced. Is this really necessary?


Dear Mandy,

A lot of my response will depend on a few factors. Are they silver amalgam fillings or white composite fillings? If they are amalgam fillings, is he planning on replacing them with more of the silver fillings? I would not let him do that.

As fillings age, they start to deteriorate. If you have amalgam fillings, it is possible they have started to leak. This is dangerous for both you and your teeth. These also tend to crack or erode faster as well. The main ingredient in amalgam fillings is mercury, so you don’t want to let this deteriorate in your mouth.

Additionally, eroding or leaky fillings will allow bacteria to seep in. This leads to tooth decay. These usually go unnoticed until it develops into an infection. Then you have a dental emergency on your hands and will need a root canal treatment.

If your dentist is wanting to replace them with composite fillings, I would feel better about that. These are better for your teeth and completely mercury-free. They also bond directly to your teeth, which will strenghten them.

Make Sure You See a Mercury-Free Dentist

If you are getting your dental fillings replaced, you definitely need to do it with a mercury-free dentist. They know how to do a sanitary amalgam removal. Mercury is a known toxin, so you do not want to accidentally swallow any mercury or inhale any mercury vapors.

Mercury-free dentists have the proper equipment and understand the porcedure to keep you from mercury exposure.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck. We offer pediatric services.

White Fillings in Children

I have a question about white fillings. My son needs his first filling. I am really uncomfortable with the silver fillings because of the mercury in them. I asked my dentist about getting him a white filling but he said they don’t work well in children. Why is that? Will the silver ones be dangerous for him?


Dear Mallory,

Let’s start with your last question first. Are the silver fillings dangerous? The American Dental Association still says that silver amalgam fillings are safe. Understandably, though, many patients and parents are uncomfortable with the high mercury content.

While composite (white) fillings are a tad trickier with children, that doesn’t mean they are not able to have white fillings. The struggle is because the composite material has to stay completely dry while it is being placed. That can be tricky for wiggly little ones.

If having a composite filling is important to you, I have found that using some nitrous oxide allows the children to completely relax if their nerves are making them figity. Most of the time they end up sleeping through the procedure.

That being said, I wouldn’t push your current dentist into this. The technique for placing composite fillings is completely different from placing amalgam fillings. I have often found that dentists who try to steer you to a different procedure are actually doing that to keep from admitting they can’t do the one you want. If you pressure him into the other procedure, he will likely not do it correctly.

I suggest that you look for a dentist who advertises as a mercury-free dentist and then see if they are also a pediatric dentist. They don’t have to be a pediatric specialist. Instead, they can be a general dentist who enjoys treating children. They are qualified and do a pediatric rotation so your children will be in good hands.

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

Do Amalgam Fillings Stain Teeth?

I have two amalgam fillings that cover about 70% of my tooth. I want to remove them and replace them with composite fillings. He said the amalgam stains teeth and they won’t look nearly as good. Is that true? Should I leave the amalgam fillings on?


Dear Meredith,

While there is some staining of teeth with amalgam fillings, they will always look better with composite fillings. Always. In addition, while amalgam fillings simply rest on the tooth, composite fillings are bonded directly to the tooth which strengthens the tooth and puts it at less of a risk for fracture.

I suspect your dentist said that to disuade you from switching. This is likely because he is uncomfortable placing composite fillings. They are placed with a completely different technique than he or she is used to placing the old amalgam fillings.

I don’t recommend you push him into doing it though. There are horror stories of patients who ended up needing a root canal treatment after a dentist placed them incorrectly. Even if it isn’t that bad, you could end up with other issues.

If you want this done right, I suggest going to a dentist who is familiar with placing them. You can do an internet search using the term mercury-free dentist. These dentists only place composite fillings and have the technique down pat.

I have one other concern I’d like to address. You mentioned your current fillings cover 70% of your tooth. In that case, your dentist really should have done a dental crown to adequately protect your tooth. This additional information puts me more in doubt of his abilities. You may want to start looking for another dentist, who can better meet your needs.

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

Do I Need a Mercury-free Dentist to Remove One Filling?

I have a silver filling I want to get rid of. I asked my dentist and he said the panic about silver fillings is overblown and I’m safer leaving them in. I don’t want to leave it in. Do I need to switch dentists or is he right about it being unsafe to remove?


Dear Megan,

Left: silver amalgam filling Right: mercury-free composite filling

If a dentist doesn’t know how to do a sanitary amalgam removal, then yes, you’re better off leaving them in. However, you don’t have to if you truly don’t want to. Especially if they’re getting old, you’re much better off removing it before it starts to leak.

There are dentists who will know how to remove them safely. I’d look for a mercury-free dentist in your place. They’ll know how to keep you from inhaling any mercury vapors or swallowing any bits of mercury. Aside from a stopper dam, they’ll need a fan and cold water to keep the mercury from melting.

Once you remove the silver fillings, you can replace them with white composite fillings. These are actually better for your teeth than their silver predecessor anyway.

If you’re happy with your dentist, you can just go to another one for this removal and replacement. However, if you and your dentist tend to disagree in treatment philosophy, you could use this as an opportunity to find another dentist.

Look at the website of some local dentists. Make sure they’re mercury-free. It’s also good to see if they offer other services you may be interested in. For instance, if you’re looking for services such as teeth whitening, make sure you can get that as well.

Then, when you have a list of possibilities, be certain to check out their reviews. Many people leave reviews on sites such as Google or Yelp!

This will tell you if they do quality work and whether or not they have a good chairside manner and patients enjoy working with them.

Best of luck to you.
This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Affordable Dentists Drs. Kevin and Hillary Peck.

Affordable Dentist for White Fillings

I’m in need of help. You may think I’m just being vain, but I can’t get my dental insurance to cover white fillings. I need one on a front tooth. My insurance will only give me a silver filling. That’s just too humiliating to consider. Is there a way to find an affordable dentist who’ll let me get a white filling at a reasonable price without my insurance?


Dear Cienna,

Phoenix Affordable Dentist

William Somerset Maugham once said, “Money is like a sixth sense – and you can’t make use of the other five without it.” It’s frustrating when you don’t have money to do things that are actually important and good for you. Dental insurance companies are renowned for only covering the most basic of care, even if another procedure is better for you. That is true of how most of them handle fillings as well.

It’s not vain to want your teeth to be all the same color. Plus, there’s the added worry about the high mercury content in silver fillings. While many dentists demand payment upfront, there are some affordable dentists who’ll be willing to work with you.

Some do payment plans. Others will give you the white filling while billing your dental insurance for the amalgam filling and letting you pay the difference.

In your place, I’d find a dentist you trust and explain your situation. Dentists want you to have a smile you’re proud to share. It reflects on them as well. I’d be willing to bet most will work with you.

Affording White Fillings and Teeth Whitening

I know affordability is an issue for you, but I just want to be sure you know once the fillings are made, the color cannot be changed. Because you said it will be on a visible tooth, make sure your teeth are the color you want. You can whiten them now, before getting your filling so they’ll match.

Or, if you need to save up because of costs, you can get your fillings then when you’re ready to whiten, you’ll just have to re-do them.

You may want to talk to your dentist about Care Credit. It’s a medical credit card that will allow you to get both procedures and pay them out in reasonable bits. Depending on your credit, you can even get zero interest terms.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kevin Peck.

Gray Tooth

My dentist says I have a gray tooth and she wants to see me again. Do you know why?

Bennie- Los Angeles


A gray tooth can mean your tooth is dying. Usually teeth die because of decay or trauma, though it is possible to die for other reasons or even no reason.

You didn’t mention  if  your tooth hurt. If you don’t feel any pain it is possible the nerve for the tooth has already died. If that is the case, bacteria will feed on the dead tissue. Eventually that will lead to an infection.

Depending on the situatioin, your dentist can treat this with a white filling or a root canal treatment.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix dentist Dr. Kevin Peck.