Tag Archives: white fillings

Advice About Dental Allergies

I’ve been having problems in my mouth as well as with some skin conditions. I went to an allergist and it turns out I have multiple allergies to dental materials, including the elements in my dental fillings. Here is the thing. I need to get different fillings, but I also need to replace a tooth. Is there a safe way to do this given what we now know about my allergies?


Dear Layla,

Safe Amalgam Removal

Let’s start with the fillings you need to remove and replace. In order to do this safely, especially with your allergies, you will need a dentist who knows and has the equipment for a sanitary amalgam removal. This will be important so you do not inhale or swallow any mercury or mercury vapors, not to mention any other materials you may be allergic to that are in those amalgam fillings. I would also wear clothing over as much of your skin as possible.

There are two types of dentists that will be the most willing to work with you and understand how to do amalgam removal properly. The first is a mercury-free dentist. The second is a biological or holistic dentist. I would do an internet search for those.

Dental Implants and Dental Allergies

Dental implants are a little easier. While there are metal free implants available made of zirconia, the traditional dental implants made from titanium are very bio-compatible. It is rare for someone to have a titanium allergy.

The benefit to the traditional implants is their proven longevity and the amount of long-term data we have on them. Titanium has been used for decades in prosthetics, not just in implants, but in hips and other joints. The only downside to the zirconia is we don’t have that data as they are fairly new.

I hope this helps.

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.
Click here to learn about teeth whitening.

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.

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.

When Do You Leave a Pediatric Dentist?

Everyone’s saying my daughter needs to move away from a pediatric dentist. But, we have a good relationship with our pediatric dentist. He lets parents come back into the operatory which helps me feel safe about her being treated. I’m not sure I want to let my sixteen-year-old loose with an adult dentist who may or may not allow me back with her. When do we have to leave?

Sandra Q.

Dear Sandra,

Child with Pediatric Dentist

There isn’t a universal rule for when your child, son or daughter, should switch. Each pediatric dental office usually has their own policy. I’d talk to them and see what their policy is.

One thing I don’t want you worrying about is the safety of your daughter with dentists. I know there have been some stories in the news that would make any parent nervous, but those are very rare indeed. If you’re afraid, many general dentists will also let parents back into the operatory. When you’re calling around, simply ask them.

Are General Dentists Qualified to Treat Children?

If you’re looking for a sort of transitional period, there are general dentists who treat children. They’re perfectly qualified. All of them did a pediatric rotation during dental school. They just didn’t do the extra time to specialize in it. By the time they’re sixteen, you rarely have to worry about something coming up totally pediatric related that they’ll need to give you a specialist recommendation.

In fact, their jaws are developing more into an adult’s, so things like crowns and composite fillings may be better suited to an “adult” dentist. Teenagers also start getting interested in procedures such as teeth whitening, which most pediatric dentists don’t offer. Be aware, though, that their bite is still developing so don’t listen to a dentist who suggests that they’re ready for something like porcelain veneers.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kevin 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.

Dental Dam

My dentist always uses something called a Dental Dam when he does root canals and fillings. I don’t like how it feels. Can you tell me what its used for?

Anne G.- Ft. Worth, TX


Sure. A dental dam, also called rubber dam, are designed to keep your tooth dry for procedures like root canals and sometimes composite fillings. The purpose for it is to protect your tooth from saliva. Our saliva has bacteria in it that can increase the chance of your tooth getting reinfected after your root canal procedure. It is also useful for keeping your tongue out of the way as well as keeping dental material and water out of your throat during the procedure. This helps people with a strong gag reflex.

Some dentists will use it when doing white (composite fillings) also because if the tooth doesn’t stay dry, the material won’t bond properly to your tooth. I would discuss with your dentist how you feel about the dam and see if you can work out a mutually beneficial solution.

You may also be interested in learning about Mercury-free dentistry.

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