Metal amalgam fillings have been used for over 150 years, and gold fillings were used for centuries before that. But just because they’re common, it doesn’t mean that metal fillings are the optimal solution. In fact, there are many reasons why metal fillings are not the best treatment for cavities, and why you should consider placing your old metal fillings.

woman sitting on couch smilingMore Natural Appearance

Of course, the appearance of metal fillings is a dead giveaway that you’ve had tooth decay, possibly a lot of it. Both gold and metal amalgam fillings are very obvious.

Amalgam fillings are worse because they corrode (see below), turning black. The black appearance of metal fillings can be as bad as or worse than the cavity they fill. Because of the way that metal from the filling permeates your tooth, black fillings can completely discolor your teeth.

Tooth colored fillings look more like natural teeth, especially ceramic fillings. These have the luster of your natural teeth and they resist staining to remain natural and attractive in appearance.

Strengthen Teeth

Metal fillings don’t add strength to your teeth. Because the fillings aren’t bonded to the tooth, they provide only limited strength.

But tooth-colored fillings can be much better for the strength of your teeth. Even composite fillings are bonded to the tooth, which can add some strength. But the strongest fillings are ceramic fillings that are bonded to your teeth. The material used for these fillings is many times stronger than your tooth enamel. For large fillings, a porcelain crown may even be recommended for replacement when the tooth is significantly weakened.

Eliminate Metallic Tastes

Some people complain about a metallic taste with metal fillings. This is only natural–you have metal in your mouth. People are more likely to report a metallic taste related to metal amalgam fillings than gold, but it can even happen with gold fillings.

Often the metallic taste is related to galvanic currents–electric currents created by having two different kinds of metals in your mouth at the same time, such as a filling and a fork, or two different kinds of fillings.

Reduce Sensitivity

Metal fillings can cause tooth sensitivity. Metal is a poor insulator, and when it comes in contact with hot or cold liquids, the temperature change is transferred deep into the tooth, causing sensitivity. Metal fillings can also cause pressure sensitivity. Because they’re not bonded to your tooth, they are free to move under pressure, which can mean that your bite will drive pressure into the nerve chamber.

Both composite and ceramic fillings are good insulators and can reduce or eliminate temperature sensitivity. For pressure sensitivity, a ceramic filling might give better results, because it’s stiffer and more resistant.


We’ve already mentioned that metal amalgam fillings turn black because they corrode. This doesn’t necessarily impact their strength and functionality, but metal fillings can also contribute to corrosion of other metals in the mouth, one of the side effects of a galvanic circuit.

This may even include dental implants. Not enough studies have been done on the impact of metal amalgam fillings on dental implants, but it is possible that metal amalgam fillings could contribute to corrosion. Implants are made of titanium, which is otherwise resistant to corrosion, but may become corroded in the presence of mercury.

Consider replacing metal fillings


Speaking of mercury, it’s another good reason to get rid of your metal amalgam fillings. Metal amalgam fillings contain more than 50% mercury by weight, which is why they’re sometimes called mercury fillings. Mercury is one of the most toxic elements on earth, which is why some people

Officially, the FDA and the American Dental Association both maintain that metal amalgam fillings are safe. But in many countries, these fillings have been banned, and a worldwide treaty is seeking to phase them out completely. It’s even been shown that people with 8 or more metal amalgam fillings have blood mercury levels 150% higher than those without metal fillings. This includes toxic methyl mercury.

Are You Looking to Replace Your Fillings?

If you are looking for more attractive, more comfortable, and healthier tooth-colored fillings, we can help. Please call (907) 349-0022 today for an appointment with an Anchorage dentist at Excellence in Dentistry.