Frequently Asked Questions about Amalgam (Mercury) Fillings
What are "amalgam" fillings?
Amalgam fillings are the mercury-containing silver or dark gray metal fillings found in many posterior (back) teeth. They contain a mixture of metals including mercury, silver, copper and tin.
Why do many people choose to replace this type of filling and what is used instead?
Some people aren't comfortable with a toxic metal (mercury) in their mouth. There are some scientific studies that indicate that mercury from the fillings may move to various organs in the body and affect their function. Other people don't like the appearance of the metal fillings, or are concerned that they may be wearing out. In our office, tooth colored composite fillings (polymers with glass filler particles) are most often used to replace the mercury amalgams.
Why are mercury amalgam fillings still being used in other offices?
There is not universal agreement that mercury amalgams can present general health related problems. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) does not believe that amalgams pose a health threat and prohibits dentists from recommending amalgam removal because of mercury content. Of course patients are entitled to make their own informed decisions regarding dental health care choices.
Is the procedure to remove amalgams safe?
Yes. It is very similar to routine dental procedures for filling teeth. Our office adds a few simple, yet important steps to minimize your exposure to mercury vapor and risk of particle inhalation or ingestion during the procedure.
Will removal of amalgam restorations improve my health?
While many patients have positive outcomes, replacing mercury amalgam fillings with composite fillings does not guarantee any noticeable, general health improvement. We suggest you work with a general health care professional for recommendations regarding your overall health.
What are the pros and cons of amalgam replacement?
After the procedure you will have modern, biocompatible, durable and attractive mercury-free restorations in your teeth. As with any procedure that involves drilling the tooth, transient sensitivity may occur after the appointment. In rare cases the sensitivity may persist and necessitate additional treatment to resolve.
Where can I get additional information?
There are two websites that provide differing points of view on the subject of mercury amalgam. The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) provides information at www.iaomt.org and the American Dental Association (ADA) position can be found at www.ada.org.