I’ve had a gold onlay on one of my molars for about 20 years now. The top surface is wearing out. My dentist wants to fill it with a silver filling and keep the gold on the sides. I don’t like amalgam. White fillings look better to me, and I’m into holistic care anyway. Can the white filling improve the look? Thank you, Afarah
We are not certain why a material other than gold is being used for your onlay. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, more gold can be used to to match your existing restoration.
If your choices are amalgam or composite, restoring your tooth with mercury-free composite filling is preferable to amalgam (often referred to as “silver”). If amalgam is used, two dissimilar metals would be in the same tooth, creating a slight electric current that could cause the amalgam to corrode faster than normal. Also, the gold will absorb some of the metals from the amalgam. Dr. Dennis would need to examine your tooth and onlay to determine the real issue.
Keep in mind that if a dentist knows how to use composite well, it is his or her preferred material. A dentist who recommends amalgam might be uncomfortable with placing composite fillings. If you insist on receiving a composite filling from the dentist, the result might be less than adequate and need to be redone.
Look for a Mercury-Free Dentist
If you really want a composite filling, find a dentist who regularly uses them on back teeth. Call a few dental offices and ask if the dentist does many silver fillings. If you are told that the dentist does very few of them, or is completely mercury-free, you can be confident he or she is comfortable placing composite fillings on back teeth. If you feel that your questions aren’t being answered to your satisfaction, keep searching for another dentist.
We suggest that you schedule a second-opinion appointment to have the onlay examined. It’s 20 years old, so it is possible that it will need to be completely removed and replaced. Although you might want to preserve the onlay, if it needs to be replaced, it’s likely in the best interests of your long-term oral health. An onlay that is well sealed will keep bacteria out and protect your tooth from decay.
This post is sponsored by Kalamazoo, MI cosmetic dentist Dr. Susan Dennis.