What Does the Removal of Wisdom Teeth Involve? And FAQ

Dr. Moldenhauer can often remove wisdom teeth under local anesthesia; however, if your case is more complex, he will refer you to a specialist for treatment. A specialist will perform surgery for a patient using intravenous (IV) sedation or general anesthesia administered by an anesthesiologist in an office surgical suite. The surgery does not require an overnight stay, and you will be released with post-operative instructions and medication (if necessary), to help manage any swelling or discomfort.

Should You Replace Your Amalgam Fillings?

Metal fillings were once the most commonly used dental material to fill cavities and repair damage. However, amalgam fillings are less popular than they used to be for a variety of reasons. If you currently have fillings that contain amalgam, you may have been told you should have them removed and replaced with newer material. The reality is that there are several important factors to consider before deciding which material to use.

What Is the Issue with Amalgam Fillings?

Metal-containing amalgams have been in use as dental fillers for centuries. Both the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) still consider amalgam fillings to be safe. They have been used in the dental profession for over 150 years. They are strong, durable, easy, and inexpensive to place in the mouth. However, it is only in the last few decades that concerns over potential toxicity have meant that amalgam is falling out of favour with both dentists and their patients. Dental amalgam fillings are made with a mixture of mercury, silver, copper, tin, and sometimes zinc. Often called "silver fillings," all dental amalgams are 45-55% elemental mercury. The mercury in the amalgam remains a concern, and when fillings break down or become dislodged from a tooth, the metal can enter the body through inhalation or ingestion. Mercury is a highly toxic metal that many people contribute to a variety of health issues such as immune system disorders, neurological disorders, hormone problems, and other systemic problems. Mercury accumulates in the body, and any amount of mercury taken into the body should be considered hazardous. Mercury is, of course, also an environmental hazard.

So, Should You Replace Your Fillings?

The question of whether amalgam fillings need replacing is still controversial and in short depends. Is there a good clinical reason to replace them, or is it more of a personal or health choice that would influence your decision? Despite their longevity, as amalgam fillings age, they can expand, which can lead to cracks, bacterial leakage, decay, deterioration, and tooth fracture requiring more extensive treatment. In some cases, removing fillings that are in good condition might lead to unnecessary mercury exposure. This exposure can occur if the correct techniques and precautions are not available to remove minute particles released during the procedure safely. Typically, in our office, we do not recommend removing amalgam fillings that are still in serviceable condition and show no signs of breakdown due to this risk. However, if it is necessary or if a patient is concerned about the potential health risk of a mercury-containing filling in their mouth, the filling can be removed. At a patient's request, our office will follow safe removal techniques as outlined by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) to limit mercury exposure to a patient. Please click on the following link if you are interested to learn more about this technique: https://iaomt.org/resources/safe-removal-amalgam-fillings/

There are several material choices to consider when replacing amalgam fillings that are deteriorating and need to be removed. We usually use a tooth-coloured biocompatible resin, also known as a composite, to fill a tooth. Porcelain and gold are also great options to consider. Porcelain is strong, durable, and highly esthetic and will last longer than a composite. Gold is still used but typically reserved for circumstances when teeth are under extreme pressure from grinding or clenching, and there is a concern of tooth fracture and esthetics is not critical. Occasionally a crown may be recommended if damage to a tooth is excessive from an existing old amalgam filling.

The decision is yours, but we will be happy to advise you of your options.

Contact Dr. Grant Moldenhauer and Dr. Brian Piercy today.

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