Dental News

Silver Amalgam Fillings Still Not Banned But Are They Right for You?

March 27, 2015

White composite fillings are more attractive and safer than silver amalgam.

Silver Amalgam Fillings Still Not Banned But Are They Right for You?After denying 3 petitions to ban or restrict the use of silver amalgam fillings that contain mercury, the FDA has revised the wording of its consumer advisory on this product to better reflect its position. Here are the key points to remember:

  • The FDA concluded silver amalgam fillings are safe and effective in 2009, following an in-depth review of the material.
  • The ADA (American Dental Association) also supports the use of silver amalgam fillings based on its own review of scientific studies on the topic.
  • Silver amalgam fillings are up to 50 percent mercury and do release low levels of mercury vapor throughout their lifespan.
  • The amount of mercury emitted by a filling is much less than the amount of environmental mercury an American encounters in the course of daily life.
  • The type of mercury emitted by a filling (elemental mercury) is not the same as that found in fish (methylmercury). The body has different tolerances for these kinds of mercury.
  • Silver amalgam fillings are not approved for children under age 6.

When Should You Worry About Silver Amalgam Fillings?

While silver amalgam fillings are considered safe by the dental industry, this does not make them your only option for treating cavities. You might want to consider white composite fillings, which provide an entirely metal-free treatment option, in the following 3 situations:

Visible Fillings: If you have cavities on your front teeth that show when you laugh or smile, naturally silver fillings will be very noticeable and will distract from the beauty of your smile. White composite fillings, on the other hand, can be shaded to match the color of your natural tooth enamel so that they are virtually invisible.

Metal Allergies: Silver amalgam fillings may contain many other metals besides silver and mercury. The most common are copper and tin. If you have allergies to any of these metals, placing a silver amalgam filling is not a wise treatment option. You could develop lesions or other irritations in the mouth as a reaction to the metal. White composite fillings are a better option because they are made from resins and glass ceramics, which are not known to cause any allergic reactions.

Broken Fillings: Because fillings that are broken may release more mercury vapor than normal, you definitely need to get any broken silver amalgam fillings attended to promptly by a qualified dentist. It is extremely important to choose an experienced dentist who knows how to limit your exposure to mercury during the removal process to protect your health and how to safely dispose of the old filling to protect the environment. When having a filling replaced, you may choose to get a new silver amalgam filling or upgrade to a white composite filling.

Need Help with Your Fillings?

Whether you need help with silver amalgam or white composite fillings, you can rely on the experienced professionals at California Dental Group to provide expert care.

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