If you are of a certain age, you probably have some silver fillings in your mouth. In reality, these “silver” fillings are what is known as dental amalgam – a composite of silver, mercury, tin and copper. In recent years, there has been talk about moving away from using this dental amalgam toward using a resin composite that more closely resembles your natural teeth. Why? Because traditional dental amalgam contains upwards of 50% elemental mercury.
Mercury in and of itself isn’t an issue – and the combination in dental amalgam has been proven safe for over 100 years. However, there have been cases dating back to the early 20th century that link the levels of mercury in fillings to health-related issues. Here are some facts to consider and discuss with your dentist when choosing how to fill those cavities:
- The FDA has determined that DENTAL AMALGAM IS SAFE for adults and children over the age of 6. Studies have been inconclusive as to its effect on pregnant women and children younger than 6.
- We are all exposed to mercury on a daily basis – through air, water and even food. The question is what level of mercury exposure is toxic. The concern with dental amalgam is how much of the mercury is released into the body, at what rate and how the body absorbs it.
- Some people who have been exposed to high levels of mercury (mostly job-related) have suffered from anxiety, memory loss, fatigue and headaches.
- Most people are not allergic to mercury. Those that are, or who have been exposed to high levels of mercury, should consider alternatives such as resin-based fillings.
In general, dental amalgam is a durable, safe solution to filling in your cavities. The real choice is up to you and your dentist. Make sure that you discuss your concerns with him or her so that you can reach the right decision together.