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