Can Metal Fillings Be Negatively Impacting Your Health?

comparison of silver and white fillings

For about 150 years, dental amalgam has been used to fill cavities. It had been prized for its durability, strength, affordability, and ease of application. But silver fillings do have certain drawbacks. Suffolk County cosmetic dentists Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot of Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry offer their patients the alternative of tooth-colored fillings. This modern option is aesthetically appealing because it’s virtually unnoticeable. Other people decide to switch from silver fillings to tooth-colored composite fillings because of concerns over ill health effects.

A closer look at dental amalgam

Around the world, hundreds of millions of patients have received dental amalgam fillings. Metal fillings are a mixture of silver, tin, copper, and liquid mercury. By weight, about 50 percent of metal filling material consists of liquid mercury. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has acknowledged that dental amalgam “releases low levels of mercury in the form of a vapor that can be inhaled and absorbed by the lungs.” The FDA also notes that “high levels of mercury vapor exposure are associated with adverse effects in the brain and the kidneys.”

After a review of the clinical studies, the FDA has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that the levels of mercury vapor released by dental amalgam are sufficiently high to cause health problems when used for patients who are ages six years and older. Clinical researchers have expressed concerns that younger children and fetuses may be more likely to develop adverse health consequences from mercury vapor. There is little to no clinical data to establish the safety of dental amalgam in pregnant women and their unborn children, breastfed infants, and children younger than six.

Dental amalgam allergies

Even if mercury vapors are not a concern, some people experience adverse effects from metal fillings because of their allergies. It is possible to be allergic or sensitive to the mercury or other components of metal fillings. Dental amalgam allergies can cause lesions in the mouth, skin rashes, itching, and other allergic responses.

Should you get your metal fillings removed?

If you suspect you have an allergy to dental amalgam, the only course of treatment is to have a cosmetic dentist remove your existing metal fillings and replace them with composite material. Removal of metal fillings is also an option for patients who may not have an allergy, but are concerned about the potential health problems. Women who plan to become pregnant, for example, may prefer to err on the side of caution and get their old fillings removed. Health reasons aside, removing and replacing metal fillings will greatly enhance the beauty of your smile.

Regardless of the reasons why you might want your metal fillings removed and replaced, you can turn to the trusted team at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry for superior, personalized care. Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot are cosmetic dentistry specialists who offer sophisticated tooth restoration options—from tooth-colored fillings to dental implants. New and current patients can get in touch with our Suffolk County practice by calling today.

Additional “metal fillings and your health” resources

  1. Colgate, Dental Amalgam: A Health Risk? http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/procedures/fillings/article/dental-amalgam-a-health-risk
  2. FDA, About Dental Amalgam Fillings, https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/DentalProducts/DentalAmalgam/ucm171094.htm

Author Info

Jacky Gale

White Fillings: A Superior Choice for Cosmetic Dentistry Patients

comparison of silver and white fillings

Silver amalgam fillings were long considered to be the standard treatment for patients with cavities. This filling material is indeed durable, but no one wants to show a mouthful of metal when they smile, laugh, or dine out with friends. Plus, silver amalgam fillings are actually made of toxic material, which is not something that the average person would want inside his or her mouth. If you still have silver amalgam fillings, consider stopping by Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry to talk to Dr. Nick or Dr. Elliot about having them removed and replaced with a better alternative.

Do metal fillings pose health risks?

One compelling reason to consider replacing your silver amalgam fillings with tooth-colored fillings is the potential health risks. Silver amalgam is actually a blend of multiple metals, including silver, tin, copper, zinc, palladium, indium, and mercury. This last metal is of particular concern for health-conscious individuals, as mercury is toxic.

So why add mercury to fillings at all? It was first added to the blend because of its capacity to make the filling pliable. This allows dentists to shape the filling to suit the tooth and the patient’s bite alignment. Mercury allows the filling to harden quickly after it’s applied. Once it’s hardened, the substance is highly resistant to the significant force of biting and chewing.

Exposure to mercury causes levels in the body’s organs to increase, which can cause health problems such as memory loss, headaches, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, and other issues. It was previously thought that silver amalgam fillings posed no risk to patients because the mercury was not absorbed by the body. Scientists now know that low levels of mercury vapor are released as the silver amalgam filling wears down.

In addition to the general concerns about mercury that can affect any dental patient, some individuals experience allergic reactions to mercury. This is a rare type of allergy, but may be quite serious.

Why are tooth-colored fillings better?

Tooth-colored fillings, also known as composite, ceramic, or porcelain fillings, are clearly a superior choice for dental patients who are concerned about their overall wellness. However, they’re often chosen simply because they are far more aesthetically pleasing compared to unsightly silver amalgam fillings. When the dentist applies tooth-colored fillings, these restorations are carefully shaped to ensure the patient’s comfort with the bite alignment. The dentist also adjusts the shade of the filling material right in the office so that the filling blends in seamlessly with the rest of the patient’s smile.

Cosmetic dentistry services in Suffolk County

For all of your cosmetic dentistry needs, you can count on the caring team at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot look forward to meeting you and designing your personalized treatment recommendations, which may include replacing silver amalgam fillings with aesthetically superior white fillings. In addition to white fillings, our office provides CEREC crowns, porcelain veneers, teeth whitening, and dental implants. If your family lives on Long Island, call our office today to schedule an appointment.

Additional “white tooth fillings” resources

  1. Colgate, Dental Amalgam: A Health Risk? http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/procedures/fillings/article/dental-amalgam-a-health-risk
  2. WebMD, Dental Health and Tooth Fillings, http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-health-fillings#1

Author Info

Jacky Gale