Should I Have Amalgam Dental Fillings Removed?

Amalgam dental fillings are among the most common types of modern dental procedures. Used to repair cavities caused by tooth decay, amalgam fillings are made of a combination of mercury, silver and tin. Amalgam fillings are the least expensive and the most durable of all dental fillings and therefore are the most frequently used.

Mercury is used in fillings due to its ability to easily mold and bind other metals together. Mercury is normally a safe metal in small amounts, but there has been concern recently over the vapor produced by amalgam fillings.

What is an amalgam filling made from?

Also known as silver fillings, amalgam fillings are made of silver, mercury, and tin. Copper, zinc, indium and palladium can also be used. Due to its appearance and the contrast of the metal against teeth, amalgam fillings are not used as widely as they were years ago.

Mercury can be a harmful metal if exposed at high levels. There has been concern over the build-up of mercury in fish as a result of pollution or in the air from factories. Some workers are exposed to high levels of mercury in their jobs. Kidney damage, anxiety, memory loss and headaches are all symptoms of mercury poisoning.

Is your amalgam filling safe?

In the past two decades, there have been studies that show mercury as an environmental hazard linked to multiple health issues. However, you should know that the level of mercury in your amalgam filling is generally known to be completely safe.

Mercury in fillings releases very low levels of mercury vapor. That vapor is then processed by your lungs and passed out through urine. Even if you have multiple amalgam fillings, the vapor produced from them is not enough to cause harm.

Dentists must take care when handling amalgam because they deal with mercury every day. To come into contact with mercury that often without protection would be dangerous. However, this is not to say that your filling is any less safe.

Should I remove my amalgam fillings?

Chances are that your amalgam fillings are not doing any harm. Although there have been efforts recently to reduce the amount of mercury in dental fillings, there is no proof that mercury in fillings causes health issues on its own.

The only reason you should get an amalgam filling removed is if it is damaged, if there is tooth decay underneath it or if you are allergic to mercury. Those who are allergic to mercury may experience mouth sores and skin rashes.

Amalgam dental fillings should be avoided by children under the age of six and pregnant women, although this is just for extra safety measures. It is doubtful that the mercury in amalgam fillings would reach dangerous levels in anyone, regardless of age. Mercury can enter the placenta of a pregnant woman, however, so to protect the fetus, dental procedures that contain amalgam are not recommended during pregnancy.

There are no dental organizations that currently recommend the removal of amalgam dental fillings.

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