There are many good reasons to replace your metal fillings with tooth-colored fillings, including the dangers of percolation for your teeth.
Percolation: Not Just an Old Fashioned Way to Make Coffee
Percolation is when changes in temperature cause fillings to suck in and push out liquid. When your teeth are exposed to cold temperatures (such as when you eat ice cream or drink a beverage with ice in it), the materials contract. Unfortunately, metal amalgam has a very different rate of contraction and expansion, which means that they shrink more than your tooth surrounding them. This creates a space around the filling, that draws in liquid from your mouth.
The liquid that’s drawn in includes everything in your mouth, including sugars, acids, and oral bacteria. When your teeth warm back up to body temperature, they push out the liquid again.
Dangers of Percolation
Percolation is dangerous because it allows bacteria and other potential threats to your teeth to bypass the tooth enamel, which is designed to face those threats. Instead, bacteria, acids, and other dangers can attack the dentin, which is less mineralized and more vulnerable to decay. Once bacteria get into your dentin, their acidic excretions can cause even more damage more quickly.
The dentin is also porous–it has tubes that lead right to your tooth pulp. These tubes can allow cold to penetrate to your pulp more quickly, increasing sensitivity.
Even worse, these tubes can become infected by bacteria, which can then penetrate into the dental pulp, leading to the need for a root canal. And because it can be hard to eliminate bacteria from these tubes, you may be at even higher risk of losing the tooth.
If you want to avoid percolation around your fillings, you should consider replacing old amalgam fillings with tooth-colored fillings, which can be made of material that expands and contracts at the same rate as your tooth, which means they won’t create spaces that draw in liquids.
If you are suffering negative effects from metal amalgam fillings and are considering replacing them, we can help. Please call 803-781-9090 to talk to a Columbia cosmetic dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry about tooth-colored fillings.