Amalgam fillings can work well, however, over time they crack the tooth around the filling. The material expands and contracts at a different rate than your tooth and acts very much the same way that ice in a pothole does. In the photos below, you can see cracks forming in the tooth around the filling.
It’s very common for pieces of the tooth to eventually break off after they crack. Below are some pictures of cracks that have formed under the older fillings.
A proactive measure can be taken by replacing the amalgam filling before it breaks the tooth. Composite (tooth colored) fillings can be a great replacement if there is enough healthy tooth structure left and if there is no significant cracking below the filling. Composite fillings bond to the tooth, adding strength and increasing the integrity, while also allowing more of the natural tooth to remain. Crowns are sometimes the best alternative, especially when the filling is very large or if the cracking/breakage has compromised the tooth. Crowns surround the tooth and provide a protective covering over the prepared tooth beneath it. Both are more aesthetically pleasing because they also match the color of the surrounding teeth.
Our goal is to help you achieve and maintain great oral health. If you have questions about this or any other dental concerns, we’re here for you.