What are Silver Fillings?
Sometimes described as “silver fillings,” dental amalgam is made from a combination of metals that include mercury, silver, tin and copper. It has been used by dentists for more than 100 years because it lasts a long time and is less expensive than other cavity-filling materials such as tooth-colored composites or gold fillings.
Because of their durability, silver fillings are often the best choice for large cavities or those that occur in the back teeth where a lot of force is needed to chew. Amalgam hardens quickly so it is useful in areas that are difficult to keep dry during placement, such as below the gum line. Because it takes less time to place than tooth-colored fillings, amalgam is also an effective material for children and special needs people who may have a difficult time staying still during treatment.
Are They Safe?
Over the years, concerns have been raised about the use of amalgam because it contains mercury, and the controversy has sometimes been heated. The considered opinion is that dental amalgam is a safe and effective dental material. Although it contains mercury, it is combined with the other metals to make it beneficial and stable.
The American Dental Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U. S. Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization all agree that, based on extensive scientific evidence, dental amalgam is a safe and effective cavity-filling material. The Alzheimer’s Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Autism Society of America and National Multiple Sclerosis Society—all science-based organizations like the ADA—also say that amalgam poses no health risk.
Should I Have My Silver Fillings Removed?
If your fillings are in good condition and there is no decay beneath the filling, the FDA does not recommend that you have your amalgam fillings removed or replaced. Removing sound amalgam fillings results in unnecessary loss of healthy tooth structure, and exposes you to additional mercury vapor released during the removal process.
However, if you believe you have an allergy or sensitivity to mercury or any of the other metals in dental amalgam (such as silver, tin or copper), you should discuss treatment options with your SEDA dentist. They can best advise you of your options.