Are My Amalgam Fillings Safe?

November 20, 2019

Millions of patients over more than 150 years have had dental amalgam used to fill their cavities. Dental amalgam, also known as “silver fillings,” due to its appearance, is a blend of metals in both liquid and powder forms, including tin, copper, silver, and mercury. Amalgam remains the less costly and more durable option; however, there has been speculation over the use of amalgam and the safety of mercury.

Why Use Mercury?

Mercury helps make the mixture of materials malleable when it’s blended with an alloy powder. The combination is easier to form into the tooth but is also quick to harden. Once it’s solidified, it holds up well to the force of chewing and biting.

Is It Safe?

Dental amalgams discharge low levels of mercury vapor that can be absorbed by the lungs. At high levels of exposure, mercury vapor can have harmful effects on the kidneys and brain. In 2009, the (FDA) U.S. Food and Drug Administration evaluated the best available scientific evidence from several prior studies. Based on the evidence, dental amalgam fillings are considered safe by the FDA for adults and children over the age of six. Clinical studies do not show a link between amalgam fillings and health problems.

Are there exceptions?

A small number of people have had allergic reactions to the mercury in amalgam. According to the ADA, less than 100 cases have been reported. In this rare instance, your dentist would opt for another material to fill the cavity. Pregnant women, in general, are advised to avoid unnecessary dental procedures. Although research has not shown adverse health effects in pregnant patients, mercury can cross the placenta.

What are the alternatives?

Despite the research and evidence, some patients prefer not to use amalgam fillings, and there are alternatives. These include composite resin, porcelain, and gold. Composite resin is tooth-colored, making it preferable for patients who want to avoid silver fillings showing when they smile.

Dr. Nieva will work with you to determine the best course of action and prescribe a unique treatment that meets your needs. Fenton Family Dentistry is focused on providing every patient with exceptional service and care. Schedule an appointment  or contact us to learn more about cosmetic fillings.