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Are Amalgam Fillings Dangerous?

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The debate over amalgam fillings in dentistry still rages on. An amalgam filling is silver in color and contains mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Many people now prefer the tooth-colored composite fillings because they are more attractive and less noticeable, but the main controversy about amalgam fillings comes from the mercury they contain. Some mercury vapor is released whenever you chew or grind your teeth. Although amalgam is still considered safe by many in the dental profession, you may want to consider having them removed by your dentist. For future cavities, the composite filling may be your best choice.

Mercury Exposure

Although mercury vapor from amalgams has been blamed for causing health problems, no studies exist that can confirm this hypothesis. Studies have shown a correlation between these fillings and mental conditions, cancer diagnoses, thyroid problems, and neurological conditions, but a correlation is not proof that the fillings cause the illnesses.

If you are inclined to have your fillings removed "just in case," you should be aware that the highest amount of exposure to mercury vapor happens when the fillings are put in and taken out. If the mercury in the fillings worries you, discuss the issue with your dentist. Also, you can choose another filling material for any future cavities.

Other Problems

Amalgams have other issues in addition to the mercury controversy. They do not adhere to your enamel, so more drilling has to be done for amalgams than is done with other fillings. If you have a big cavity, such a large filling can weaken your tooth, meaning you may have more problems with it in the future.

Also, these metal fillings hide decay during x-rays. Since your dentist cannot see if the amalgam needs to be replaced, it may lead to your having a root canal in the future. Some experts believe that the fillings may be a factor in teeth cracking, another condition that can lead to extensive repair work. 

Amalgam fillings do have their benefits. They are less expensive than some other materials and are very durable. If you want to avoid mercury in your mouth and some of the other possible filling problems, ask your dentist about using a tooth-colored composite instead. Your teeth will look more natural, and you do not have to worry about the safety of your fillings. If you have silver fillings already, discuss removal with your dentist. He will be best able to advise you on the benefits and disadvantages of having them removed. Consider contacting the Randolph Dental Group for more information.