Are Silver Fillings Safe?

Silver fillings or dental amalgam have been used to fill cavities for more than a hundred years. What exactly is a dental amalgam or silver filling? Well, dental amalgam is a putty-like metallic substance made of powdered silver, tin and copper. Liquid mercury is mixed in with the powdered metal to construct the amalgam. Sometimes, zinc and indium are added to the mix.

Because silver fillings have mercury, some people may be reluctant to have them in their teeth. So just how safe is dental amalgam?

Does the mercury in silver fillings get into the rest of the body?

Mercury occurs naturally in nature and is absorbed into the body through water, air, soil, and food. In very low amounts, mercury poses no health risk. That said, exposure to high levels of mercury is dangerous for the body. In extreme cases, mercury poisoning can happen.

The mercury in dental amalgam was long thought to be inert, meaning that none of it found its way into the rest of the body. This was not the case. Improved methods of testing found that minuscule amounts of mercury vapor escape into the body as the filling wears away.

Why would anyone agree to get silver fillings?

Because the amount of mercury released by dental amalgam is much, much less than the levels of mercury people are exposed to every day. Air and food (especially seafood) expose people to more mercury than silver fillings ever could. Dental amalgam makes tooth fillings that last much longer than composite resin and other tooth-colored alternatives. Silver fillings withstand the stress of chewing much better than resin fillings.

After extensive testing and trials, the World Health Organization, F.D.A, and the American Dental Association all state that dental amalgam is safe.

Who should avoid dental amalgam?

  • •People allergic to mercury could go into anaphylactic shock if exposed to amalgam.
  • •Pregnant women are also advised to avoid dental procedures, especially those that require silver fillings. The reason for this is to prevent minute amounts of mercury from finding their way into the bloodstream of the unborn baby.
  • •People who are constantly exposed to mercury at work should not get silver fillings. Even dentists sometimes opt to restore their teeth with resin fillings because they handle mercury all the time.
  • •Silver fillings can be used to fix the teeth of anyone over the age of six.

New improvements make silver fillings even safer

Nowadays, indium is added to amalgam to make the mercury even more inert. It works by ensuring only the tiniest amount of mercury is released from the filling. Also, the amount of mercury in dental amalgam is often reduced and replaced with copper.

That said, silver fillings are not a good look for front teeth. Silver fillings are great for molars, but porcelain and composite resin are better alternatives for the front teeth. The priority for front teeth is always aesthetics, so the issue of safety and amalgam should not even come up.

With a few exceptions, silver fillings are very safe. They have been in use for 150 years with great success. If you want a filling that will serve you for a long time, then a silver filling is what you want.

Visit one of our clinics and have your cavities restored with fillings.

Are you considering silver fillings in the Santa Barbara area? Get more information at https://www.erikwinndds.com. Or call us at (805)920-2133.

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