Silver Fillings

Silver Fillings

Silver Fillings

An inexpensive and outdated way to restore a small amount of tooth decay.

Please note: Modern dental technology has made it possible to avoid the use of mercury fillings entirely. Dr. Eastin has elected to not place mercury silver fillings and instead focus his care on more effective, state-of-the-art tooth colored restorations.

The following information explains why this restoration was commonly used in the past and why we prefer not to place them today.

The Problem:

  • A small amount of decay on a portion of a back tooth

The Solution:

A silver (or amalgam) filling is a mixture of approximately 50% silver/tin alloy and 50% mercury. After tooth decay is removed and cleaned, this gray colored material is packed into the tooth and shaped.


Silver fillings have been used for more than 150 years. Their biggest advantage is that they are quickly and easily placed, making them relatively inexpensive. They are also relatively durable.


Traditional mercury fillings turn teeth dark and gray, age the appearance of your smile, and often weaken the teeth they were meant to protect. Mercury-silver fillings do not bond (stick) to the tooth structure. This requires the dentist to wedge the filling into the tooth to keep it from falling out. However, creating this wedge effect requires the removal of excessive amounts of healthy tooth structure, weakening the tooth and predisposing it to cracks and fractures.

The lack of a bond between the filling and the tooth also permits bacteria to leak underneath the filling. This creates decay that is often not detected until the tooth has been further damaged.

By volume, amalgam fillings contain over 50% mercury — one of the most toxic substances on earth. Just like in a thermometer, the mercury part of the filling expands and contracts. These expansion and contraction cycles wedge the tooth apart. Eventually the tooth will fatigue, crack and split. Repairing a cracked tooth usually requires either a root canal and/or a crown.

Mercury amalgam technology is ancient by modern medical standards. Mercury amalgam was standardized for manufacture in 1895 — over 100 years ago, and dentists have been using it to fill teeth for at least 160 years.

Composite Fillings


In contrast to mercury fillings, modern tooth-colored restorations are adhesive, highly cosmetic and mercury-free. These esthetic restorations are strongly bonded to the tooth using a state-of-the-art technique that intimately binds the material to the surrounding tooth structure. Using these advanced materials and techniques we can restore the original strength and beauty of the tooth.

Composite (white) fillings are an excellent alternative, limiting the removal of healthy tooth structure and posing no known environmental risk.

In cases of extensive decay, inlays/onlays or crowns are a much better restoration.

For more information about existing mercury fillings, read the answer to our Frequently Asked Question, Should I have my silver fillings replaced.

Dr. Eastin has a website devoted entirely to natural dentistry. For more information please visit Holistic Mercury Free Dentist in Coeur d’Alene Idaho