While we usually associate allergies with things like pollen, insect bites and certain foods, a very small percentage of the population is allergic to one or more of the metals we sometimes use in fillings. For those with metal allergies, we have plenty of alternatives.
If you have tooth decay, we will likely need to remove the decayed portion of the tooth and fill it with another material, such as gold, porcelain, silver amalgam or composite resin. Each material has its own benefits; we select a filling material based on the size and location of the filling, while also considering cost and insurance benefits.
Although they don’t match the color of your teeth, silver amalgam fillings may be the best choice for some because of their strength, durability and low cost. However, approximately 1% of the population is allergic to the mercury in silver amalgam fillings.
Usually, people who are allergic to amalgam fillings have a history of metal allergy in their families. Symptoms are similar to those of a skin allergy, and can include rash or itching. If an allergy is confirmed, several alternative materials are available.
Tooth-colored composite. Popular with many patients because they match the color of the teeth, composite fillings bond chemically to teeth, providing extra support; but they may not last as long as amalgam fillings.
Ceramics. While expensive, ceramic fillings resist staining better than composite fillings do and can last more than 15 years.
Glass ionomer. Though weaker than composite fillings and prone to fracture, glass ionomer fillings release fluoride, which can protect teeth from further decay. Glass ionomer is most commonly used for fillings below the gumline and for fillings in young children.
Fortunately, there are no documented cases of allergic reactions to composite, porcelain or glass ionomer fillings, so they are safe for people with allergies to metal.
If you are allergic to metal or have a family history of such allergies, let us know. If you need a filling, we can review and discuss with you all treatment options so that we can select the best option to restore your teeth to good health.