Dental Tips Blog

May
5

Mercury Use in Dentistry

Posted in Fillings

There has been a tremendous amount of debate over whether or not the use of amalgam fillings in dentistry are actually safe or not, due to the materials that they are made from. Amalgam, or silver fillings are made up of an alloy of different metals including silver, copper, mercury and tin. These types of fillings have been use in dentistry for approximately 150 years.

Mercury inside of dental fillings is typically only considered active when the amalgam filling is being mixed and prepared into the tooth, or when the filling is removed years later. Some believe that silver fillings may actually leak mercury into the body over time, but the research studies that propose this concept are few. The majority of seasoned dentists find that silver fillings have no side effects on their patients and that they are extremely safe to use.

Silver fillings are typically less expensive than their tooth colored counterparts. Unfortunately, they also require more tooth preparation before the filling can be placed, making them larger than a tooth colored fillings placed in the exact same area. Over time the silver filling can also begin to creep away from the tooth enamel, and create an “amalgam tattoo” which stains the nearby tooth enamel a bluish hue from the metal.

Patients that opt to have old silver fillings removed can replace them with tooth colored restorations that are much more aesthetically pleasing and contain no mercury whatsoever. All composite and porcelain restorative materials are completely mercury free. Because the material in tooth colored restorations bonds directly with the enamel, the tooth can have a much smaller filling placed, and the fillings can be placed in non-traditional areas where silver fillings cannot.

Posted on behalf of Dan Myers

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