Q: What is ‘silver mining’?
A: Silver “mining” is a term with negative implications, describing the removal of clinically sound silver fillings for reasons having no solid basis in science or medicine. If you’ve been told you need all of your silver fillings replaced in a short time frame, be certain you understand the reasons. If you are having it done for cosmetic reasons, be sure you understand the facts.
Q: When should I replace my filling?
A: To replace a filling with urgency depends on several factors:
- Whether it’s cracked, broken, or merely “ditched”
- Pain/sensitivity status of the tooth
- Presence of decay under or along the filling
- Leakage past the filling
- Size and depth of the filling
- Patient’s overall treatment plan
- Age and health of the patient
A: If all or most of the natural tooth is missing (due to decay, trauma, etc.), but the tooth is still considered fixable, a special type of filling known as a “core buildup” is performed. The process is identical to other fillings, except that more of the tooth is involved. After the tooth has been rebuilt with the filling, it is usually prepared for a crown to prevent the core buildup and tooth from splitting apart.
Q: Will my tooth hurt after having a filling?
A: Filling a tooth is a surgical procedure on live nerve and tissue that very commonly produces inflammation—just as making an incision in an arm or leg would. It does so by increasing blood flow to the affected region. Since teeth cannot swell, inflammation causes the blood pressure inside the tooth to increase and the increased pressure on the nerves inside may produce significant discomfort. Well-maintained dental instrumentation, skilled technique, and use of desensitizing medications can minimize post-operative discomfort, but may not eliminate it.