Should Silver Fillings Be Replaced?
Amalgam (silver) fillings have been used in dentistry for over 100 years due to their durability and low cost. Many of our patients are concerned if the mercury in the filling can result in adverse effects to your health.
The Facts About Amalgam
Dental amalgam is an alloy composed of mercury, tin, silver, copper, and other trace metals. Over 50% of dental amalgam is composed of mercury, which is used to react and bind with the other metals to form an amalgam.
Is Dental Amalgam Safe?
Dental amalgam releases low levels of mercury in the form of a vapor, which can be inhaled and absorbed by the lungs. Research shows that mercury absorbed in high enough concentrations can cause health problems. That being said, the amount released is well below the FDA accepted daily intake of .4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. Many studies have been done studying the health effects of amalgam and none have demonstrated that it has adverse effects on the body. The American Dental Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization agree that based on extensive scientific evidence, dental amalgam is a safe and effective cavity-filling material.
Should I Replace My Silver (Amalgam) Fillings?
When it comes to replacement, amalgam fillings should be treated like any other dental restoration. We do not advise our patients to change their silver fillings unless there are signs of decay, chipping, cracks, or poor margins. It is best left alone unless it poses a cosmetic concern for you.
What Do We Use in Our Office?
In our office we use resin-based composite (tooth colored) fillings that are selected for the perfect shade to match your teeth. When we remove cavities, we are removing decayed tooth structure. The remaining tooth is quite fragile. Composite, unlike amalgam, bonds to your teeth and can actually reinforce the strength of the weakened tooth. With composite, we also do not have to remove healthy tooth structure just to achieve the minimum measurements for amalgam to perform adequately. The margins are also sealed, which prevents further decay.
If given the choice, we believe that composite provides a better, more conservative and esthetic restoration. That being said, if your existing amalgam fillings do not exhibit any defects they are best left alone!