When you picture a filling, there’s a good chance an unsightly piece of silver comes to mind, wedged inside a cracked tooth to fill the hole. That “silver” is actually an amalgam of several different types of metal. In many cases, more than half of that amalgam is mercury. This means of restoring and repairing teeth has been around for more than 150 years. But in recent decades, health and dental professionals have become wary of amalgam fillings, with their worries centered largely on the mercury involved. For that reason, there’s been an increasingly strong movement for mercury free dentistry.

Health Concerns

Strictly speaking, mercury is a toxic substance to humans, with adverse effects setting in once concentrations reach high enough levels. According to the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA), “High levels of mercury vapor exposure are associated with adverse effects in the brain and the kidneys.” While the FDA has concluded that the mercury used in amalgam fillings does not pose a significant risk, and considers amalgam fillings safe for use in adults and children older than six, not everyone is in agreement with these findings, with other countries instituting harsher limitations on the use of amalgam fillings.

Structural Concerns

Mercury-related health concerns are, of course, important to consider. But even outside of these concerns, there are significant drawbacks to amalgam fillings, especially when compared with more modern composite fillings. These composite fillings are composed of a mixture of glass and plastic.

Amalgam fillings require a larger area for support than their composite counterparts. For this reason, placing amalgam fillings typically requires the removal of healthy tooth structure. But the shortcomings of amalgam fillings continue well past their initial placement.

Temperature is the primary structural concern with amalgam fillings. Are you familiar with mercury-in-glass thermometers? This is one of the oldest thermometer technologies, with silver-colored mercury liquid rising and falling inside a glass tube to indicate the temperature. The mercury inside amalgam fillings is just as reactive to changes in temperature, meaning amalgam fillings expand and contract as temperatures change. That means that with every hot cup of coffee and every cold glass of ice-water, these fillings change size. This constant expansion and contraction strains teeth, often leading to cracks, chips, fractures, and snaps.

Amalgam fillings also twist and bend much more than healthy teeth when chewing. Conversely, composite fillings react very similarly to your natural tooth structure in the presence of temperature variation and pressure from chewing, allowing the filling and the tooth it’s bonded with to move as one.

Aesthetic Concerns

Even judged purely on aesthetics, amalgam fillings fall short. Silver may be a good look for jewelry, but it loses its appeal once it’s inside your mouth. Composite fillings can actually be matched to the existing color of your teeth, making them an incredible resource when it comes to dental restoration. The composite fillings blend together visually with the teeth they’re repairing, leaving your smile unencumbered and free to shine in its own, non-metallic way.

As a mercury free dentist, Carol E. Follette, DDS has seen firsthand the tremendous results of patients who have sought out alternatives to amalgam fillings. Our office here in Santa Monica, CA is specifically designed to facilitate the replacement of amalgam fillings. Give us a call today at (310) 870-0040 for more information on getting the metal out of your mouth.


Do you miss the bright, white smile of your youth? It's common for the brightness of your smile to fade over the years; it's just product of aging. If you have been thinking of treatment, you may be concerned that you'll have to invest a lot of money to get the smile you want.

This is not necessarily true! All that you need may be a completely customized whitening treatment performed by the Santa Monica teeth whitening dentist. Our professional teeth whitening treatments lighten and brighten your tooth enamel and takes years off your appearance!

Because of the increasing demand for teeth whitening options, we're pleased to offer personalized treatment to restore your once-youthful smile.

Personalized Teeth Whitening Options

The fastest way to obtain the most noticeable results in the shortest amount of time is to choose a customized professional treatment prepared at our office. This whitening process requires two visits so that we can take highly accurate impressions of your best way to protect tender gum tissue during the whitening process.

Once the trays have been finished, you will wear them using the whitening solution provided by our dentist. Solutions vary by strength, and you will receive specific instructions on how long and how often they should be worn.

Combatting Tooth Sensitivity

If you've tried whitening in the past and you experienced sensitivity, please let us know. Your Santa Monica teeth whitening dentist Our dentist will customize the strength of your whitening gel to ensure that this isn't a problem. There's no reason to experience discomfort just because you want a more beautiful smile!

You can choose at-home teeth whitening that offers control over how much and how often you want to whiten your teeth. Remember that teeth whitening is not permanent, especially if you are doing it yourself at home. You will probably need to do frequent touch-ups if you are a smoker or drink a lot of coffee or red wine.

Please Contact Our Office for a Brighter Smile!

Would you like to learn more about our customized teeth whitening treatments? Please call our office today, and we’ll have you on your way to a brighter smile in no time!


Teeth grinding and clenching of your jaw while you sleep can create serious problems with your oral health, including bite misalignment, cracked or chipped teeth, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Some common signs that you grind your teeth during sleep are chronic headaches upon waking, shoulder and neck pain or a sensation that your jaw locks up when opening and closing your mouth.

Identifying the Cause

After a thorough dental examination by the Santa Monica, CA family dentist we can determine what the probable cause of your teeth grinding is and which treatment approach may be necessary to prevent long-term damage to your teeth. There are several reasons people grind or clench their teeth (also referred to as bruxing or bruxism):

  • Injury or trauma to the temporomandibular joint.
  • Misaligned dental bite
  • Muscle tension

A misaligned dental bite can cause your back teeth to become unbalanced, resulting in excess force being placed on one side of your mouth. In this case, you do not bite down evenly on all teeth, and the jaw shift from its normal position to bring the rest of your teeth together.

This action causes you to clench or grind your teeth on that side of your mouth and puts constant, unnatural force on the joint and surrounding muscles. This is why you experience head and neck pain.

Simple, Non-Invasive Treatment

In many cases, the Santa Monica, CA family dentist can create a simple custom appliance called a night guard that will reduce this uneven force on your teeth. However, a thorough exam is the best way to assess your situation and determine the underlying cause and best treatment for your teeth grinding and clenching.

If you believe that your symptoms may be caused by teeth grinding, please contact our office. We will discuss your symptoms and work with you to determine the best course of treatment that will address your needs and provide relief.