Monday, December 3, 2007

Had Your Silvers Checked Lately?

Because I'm boring and can't come up with an original interesting blog on my own, I will just show some pictures of something we saw in the office this week.

So when we were kids, most of us got amalgam or "silver" fillings at some point. Silver fillings can last a really long time but when they decide to go, they go down in a blaze of glory.

Let's examine further...

Here is a tooth with a rather small silver filling. Our patient was complaining that it hurt when he chewed. Many older silver fillings break down around the edges and pull away from the tooth. This causes the filling to act like a wedge every time you bite down. The results are the fracture lines you see radiating from the angles of the filling towards the sides of the tooth. It doesn't look like much but many times these cracks run onto the root of the tooth which causes a lot of pain when you chew and the tooth flexes apart.

So when we started to remove the filling and see where the cracks went, the entire corner of the tooth literally fell off without any effort. The cracks had run across the floor of the tooth and to the other side. Luckily, the tooth fractured above the bone level and didn't involve the nerve so it can be repaired with a crown. Worst case scenario means the tooth needs to be removed or needs a root canal to save it.

The Finished Result

It's nice that we can repair these teeth with such a natural appearance and in a way that will last a long time. This is a porcelain crown that will bite and function just like the original tooth did.

The Moral of the Story
So make sure you have your dentist check your old silver fillings to see if you have any fractures. I see them in about 75% of teeth with silver fillings over 10 years old.

If you catch them on time, you can fix them with a filling or sometimes a crown. If you wait too long then you run the risk of needing a root canal or losing the tooth. And we don't want that!
Get them checked!