I’ve had a gold onlay for one of my molars for about 20 years. It is wearing out. My dentist wants to save as much gold as possible and fill the damaged portion with a silver filling. I don’t like amalgam. White fillings look better, and I’m into holistic care anyway. Why would he even suggest silver? I am already anxious, but this treatment recommendation is making things worse. Thanks. F. Turner – San Jose
Dear F. Turner,
Thank you for your question. Dr. Brooksher would need to examine your tooth and onlay to determine the best way to preserve your tooth.
What Is a Gold Onlay?
A gold onlay is a custom tooth restoration that covers one or more cusps or points of a tooth. Unlike a dental crown, it does not cover the entire tooth. Did your dentist explain why he does not want to use composite in the tooth?
Should a Dentist Repair a Gold Onlay with Silver Filling?
Repairing the tooth with white composite filling is preferable to amalgam (often referred to as “silver”). If your dentist uses amalgam, two dissimilar metals would be in the same tooth, creating a slight electric current that could cause the amalgam to corrode faster than usual. Also, the gold will absorb some of the mercury from the amalgam.
A dentist who recommends amalgam might be uncomfortable placing composite fillings. Insisting on having composite fillings from the dentist may give you an undesirable result that needs to be replaced.
If you want composite fillings, find a cosmetic dentist who regularly uses them on back teeth. Call the office and ask if the dentist does many silver fillings. If the office representative says that the dentist does very few of them or does not use them, it is likely that the dentist is comfortable placing composite fillings on back teeth.
If your dentist is not answering your questions to your satisfaction, look for a skilled cosmetic dentist and request an exam. Tell the dentist about your anxiety and ask about sedation options.
Dr. Steven Brooksher, an accredited cosmetic dentist in Baton Rouge, sponsors this post.