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Are Silver Mercury Amalgams safe? Should I have mine replaced?

One of the ongoing controversies in dental care is the use of silver mercury amalgam fillings and restorations.  Are these dark, fillings any good?  Are they harmful for your health?

 

Mercury in amalgam silver black fillings.  Yes, the stigma sounds bad.  There is a general trend towards the placement of less amalgam restorations.  The Smile Team typically uses white composite resin and porcelain solutions for almost all our dental treatment.  However, this is due to their cosmetic appearance, and the environmental impact, rather than any specific health issues.  We’ll touch on these factors below.

 

Health


Being one of the often asked questions by patients, a lot of dental research has gone into assessing amalgam safety.  What the vast majority of studies show is that amalgam fillings are a very safe treatment solution for patients.  Mercury doesn’t leach out of amalgam fillings.  Amalgam fillings are safe to place and remove for both patient and dentist.  That is the stance by both the well regarded Australian Dental Association and the American Dental Association.

Benefits of amalgam fillings
These fillings are tough and durable.  Typically they last a very long time in the mouth, often, longer than white fillings for larger cavities.  Occasionally, it's also the best choice of material to use for a particular tooth.

Replacement of amalgam fillings
Like all good things in life, amalgam fillings don't last forever.  Despite their generally good longevity, there is a limited lifespan to them depending upon the amount of bite force, sugars, and acids in the mouth.  Amalgam fillings are also prone to leading to cracks in teeth.

At The Smile Team, we will consider the state of each tooth carefully before carrying out any dental treatment for you.  If a filling is recommended to be treated, you'll always be advised of the reason for changing existing fillings.  It could be for a combination of deterioration, decay, cracking, or for aesthetic purposes.  We always inform our patients.

Aesthetics
There is a black and white difference between the appearance of amalgam fillings and white composite resin or porcelain fillings.  Particularly in areas visible in the smile, white solutions have a clear and obvious advantage.

Modern dentistry
There have been many new advancements in dental materials in the past few decades.  White composite resin dental fillings and restorations are constantly undergoing improvements, with some benefiting from nanotechnology in their makeup.  White porcelain dental fillings, restorations, and crowns have also had more time to prove themselves too, becoming good solutions to replace larger dental amalgams. 

As a result, white composite resin and porcelain solutions have become excellent alternatives to amalgam fillings. 

 

Environmental safety
There has been a push by the United Nations Environment Program to initiate international action to minimize the impact of mercury in the environment.  This program has called for a significant reduction in the use, rather than ban amalgam use.  Interestingly enough, this is because the greatest sources of mercury release of amalgams into the environment are during cremation.

It's generally considered by the vast majority of dentists that silver mercury amalgams are a safe material for patients to keep.  At The Smile Team, we think so too.   Unless there is deterioration, decay, cracking, or an aesthetic concern, it's always friendlier for your tooth to keep the filling it has on it rather than to undergo its replacement.  When treatment is required, we’ll be glad to guide you on their replacement.