Hi Dr. Ellie,
I had a consultation with a dentist today, and he said a brown spot on my tooth was not decay, but a stain around the filling. For the molar that has the large filling, he said I may eventually need a root canal and crown if the filling material at some point breaks down (he thought at some point this would happen), or if I have a lot of pain with the tooth.
I would like to hear your opinion about the root canal issue.
Could you consider writing on your blog about what are the best materials to use for dental work? My parents and some of my friends have mercury fillings that have lasted for decades. I wonder about the strength of the white composite fillings since I have had more than one break and have had these fillings for 7 years or less. There’s also the concern about a filling “leaking”. I know many people with mercury fillings that have not had this problem, and I just wonder if it’s more of a problem with composites based on my experience. My dad said composites seem to work OK on front teeth, but did not hold up very well on back teeth. I think I heard that porcelain and gold are much stronger.
Thanks for your time and thought,
I would advise anyone who can, to avoid a root canal treatment. I also advise people to try and avoid changing old fillings.
Most of all, it is important to get your mouth healthy before you do anything else. In my office, I would wait three to six months, with patients on a preventive program before putting in a filling. First we would eradicate dental disease from their mouths. Then we would put in or change out a filling.
If you had water damage on your kitchen floor would you fix it before turning off the problem that was causing the damage? If not, you would make the repair, but it would get damaged again and need more repairs. Turn off the source of the damage and then see what needs to be fixed. It is the same in the mouth.
I do not think that there is a perfect filling material. I have a couple of old silver fillings in my mouth.I know they contain mercury but I also know what makes mercury evaporate: acidity and peroxide. If you have old silver fillings it is very important to avoid mouth acidity and never use peroxide in the mouth. My fillings are smooth and healthy after 50 years!
Silver fillings usually leak when pieces of enamel chip away from the edge around the filling.
This happens when enamel becomes weak ( as it does in an acidic mouth).
This is another reason that people with silver fillings should fight mouth acidity with xylitol ( a Zellie mint or two after every cup of coffee, orange juice or soda drink for example).
If you have silver fillings build the strength of your remaining enamel by using my Complete Mouth Care System. The most important part for preserving enamel is the final ACT rinse.
Bathe your teeth for a couple of minutes in this liquid and always last thing at night before going to bed. The ACT builds enamel to be more acid resistant and therefore less likely to chip away.
The ingredients in white fillings vary depending on the manufacturer. Make sure that they do not contain BPA (Bisphemol A) since this is a hazard for your health. I warn the mercury phobics not to rush and change their silver fillings too quickly. White fillings may turn out to be more harmful than a well preserved old silver filling. The most dangerous time for mercury vapors to be inhaled is when your dentist is cutting out the old filling.
Gold may be an option CERAC is a also relatively inert material. Filling materials change all the time.
I think that you should concentrate on preserving the health of your mouth. Maybe in a year or two filling materials will have developed to be more “health conscious” than they are at the moment.
Let’s hope so!
Thanks for the questions,