Should Amalgam Fillings Be Removed?
There are millions of people who have amalgam fillings. Recently, there has been concern raised about the mercury used in these fillings — to the point that many feel they should have them removed immediately.
What is Amalgam?
Amalgam is an alloy made from 50% mercury and a combination of silver, copper, tin, and other metals. Mercury is added to make the mixture pliable and easy to place in the tooth. Mercury is toxic to humans, though the toxicity depends on the form and duration of exposure. The American Dental Association (ADA) believes that there is no reason not to use amalgam for health reasons.
There is research to support both sides of the question about the safety of amalgam. The ADA feels that removing fillings from otherwise healthy teeth may do more damage to the tooth. It also increases the risk of releasing higher amounts of mercury, which could be inhaled during the extraction. The ADA recommends that, unless they are worn, cracked, or there is decay beneath the filling, there is no reason to remove existing amalgam fillings. On the other hand, a long-term Scandinavian study showed that 78% of those who had amalgam removal done reported significant overall health improvement. Like so many treatment options, the course of action needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Why Avoid Amalgam Fillings in the Future?
Whether amalgam is safe or not, there are other reasons you might want to avoid amalgam fillings:
- Allergic reactions are possible.
Although it is rare, since there are several metals involved, there is the possibility that there could be allergic reactions to amalgam. Composite fillings are metal-free.
- Amalgam hides cavities from x-rays.
Silver blocks x-rays, so some problems beneath the fillings may remain hidden until serious problems develop.
- Amalgam restorations can be unsightly.
Amalgam can discolor over time. Composite fillings, however, are color matched to your tooth and don’t tarnish.
- Amalgam restorations can cause teeth to crack.
A silver filling acts like a wedge transmitting force to the rest of the tooth when biting or chewing. If the filling is large, the tooth may eventually crack or chip. Composite fillings bond to the tooth and spread the biting force over a greater surface, making the tooth stronger. Composite fillings also need less of the damaged tooth to be removed in preparation for filling than amalgam, further protecting the tooth.
- Amalgam restorations can lead to incremental exposure to Mercury.
Dentists use protective measures when working with amalgam for a reason. It is considered safe, but constant exposure raises its toxicity, so precautions must be taken. The same applies to you if you have exposure from eating seafood or if you work in an environment where mercury is present because the effects add up.
What is Amalgam?
At Star Dental, we put you and your needs first. We prefer to use composite fillings for many reasons, but we will explain your options and help you determine the best course of action regarding fillings. Of course, the best option is to brush and floss daily and maintain a regular schedule of dental visits to prevent any cavities in the first place! We serve patients in Roseville, California and the surrounding areas, so contact our office today to find out more about composite fillings.