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Questions about fixing broken Amalgam filling



Jun 26, 2013
United States
Hi all,

So I have decided to get my broken amalgam filling repaired, finally. My appointment is on the 24th at noon and I am so nervous! I have been thinking about it for weeks and I've been making myself miserable over it. So I hope that some of you can answer some of my questions. :(

I'm transferring to another dentist so I can get it done while I am out of town. (Odd decision I know, but I didn't want to take extra time off of work for appointments, and my support person will be able to be with me this way)!

My usual dentist (who is in the town I live in) put me down for "Two surface composite fillings" on his treatment plan. He listed both of the fillings as this, but as far as I know only one amalgam will need to be replaced. Both of these fillings are between my molars and my old amalgam broke as I was flossing. (I can't help but wonder if they over-filled it? It was definitely over 10 years old however, maybe more).

The things I'm most scared about mainly involve being able to swallow during the procedure. It's been 9 years since I had my last filling, so I don't remember much about it other than feeling nervous and a pinch during the injection. I also think the numbing began to wear off towards the end but it didn't seem to bother me that much...

I ended up looking up info and even videos about people getting their amalgams replaced. It seems to me like most of them use the dental dam. I think I would feel a lot safer with the dental dam because I worry about mercury exposure in my mouth. I also have a huge fear of choking so I think the dam would eliminate that fear. However, I also want to be able to swallow and not feel like I'm going to drown or choke on my own saliva. ?

I also saw that some dentists don't use the dam at all and simply use cotton around the tooth. This worries me a bit, but maybe it's not so bad? I know the composite area needs to be kept dry otherwise there's a chance it won't bond correctly. I definitely don't want to have to go through it a second time!

Finally, I'm going to a dentist who uses The Wand single tooth anesthesia system (STA). To me this looks like a great solution for me because I'm terrified of seeing the huge needle coming towards me when they numb me, as well as the feeling of my tongue and whole mouth being numb. But does anyone else have experience with it? Is it really as painless as they say? Also, does it make your heart race less than a traditional injection? I know with my previous injections, my heart seemed to race a bit but I'm not sure if it's the epinephrine they add to it (? I think?) or my anxiety, or both!

Also, how long can one expect two fillings, one very large and the other small but both on the molars and both involving the space between them, to take?

Any advice would really help!


Staff member
Verified dentist
Oct 25, 2005
If I'm using dam I give the patient their own little saliva vacuum tube to play with, they could move it around and sort out the saliva that way.
Most people can manage to swallow pretty well with dam in place even with their mouth open, you just don't need to think about it!

Not been on the receiving end of a Wand for a long, long time, I found it to be painless and effective but injections really don't bother me at all.
You get less drugs than with the standard injection so less chance of having any secondary issues like faster pulse.

Can't help with the time question, different dentists work at very different speeds. It'd take me about 45 minutes to an hour roughly to do them in composite, about half that in amalgam.