Is There Mercury In My Amalgam Fillings?

Amalgam fillings have been a topic of discussion and debate for many years. Commonly referred to as "silver fillings," their durability and longevity have made them a staple in restorative dentistry. You may be wondering if there is mercury in your fillings and if that’s harmful to your overall health. Today, we're diving deep into this question, offering clarity and understanding about what amalgam fillings are made of, the safety concerns surrounding mercury, and the alternatives available for those considering their dental filling options.

Understanding Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings have been used for over 150 years by hundreds of millions of patients worldwide. They are a mixture of metals, including silver, tin, copper, and yes, mercury. The mercury in amalgam combines with the other metals to render it safe for use in filling cavities. It's important to note that the mercury in these fillings is not the same as the mercury found in certain types of fish or in a broken thermometer.

Why is Mercury Used in Fillings?

Mercury is used in amalgam fillings because it helps make the filling material pliable. When it's mixed with an alloy powder, it creates a compound that's soft enough to mix and press into the tooth but also hardens quickly and can withstand the forces of biting and chewing. While mercury might sound alarming, the American Dental Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and World Health Organization all say that amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children ages 6 and above.

The Safety of Amalgam Fillings

The concern about mercury in fillings stems from its potential to release low levels of mercury vapor that can be inhaled. However, several well-conducted studies have concluded that the small amount of mercury released from amalgam fillings is not enough to cause harm in patients with fillings. Furthermore, removing intact amalgam fillings results in a temporary increase in exposure to mercury vapor, which is why it's not recommended unless the filling is damaged or there are other compelling reasons.

Alternatives to Amalgam Fillings

If the thought of having mercury in your mouth still makes you uncomfortable, there are other materials that dentists can use to fill cavities. These include composite resins, ceramics, and gold. Each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice depends on factors like the size and location of the cavity, your dental history, cosmetic considerations, and cost.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

At The Local Dentist, Dr. Chaz Vittitow is committed to providing the best dental care possible. If you're concerned about the presence of mercury in your fillings or are interested in exploring other filling options, we invite you to schedule a consultation. Call us today at (360) 543-8488 to request an appointment. We serve patients in and around Bellingham, WA, and we're always here to address your dental health concerns.

Return to Blog

Accessible, Affordable Care

Time To Smile & Save