Every few years concerns over toxicity levels in the human body due to amalgam fillings once again become a hot topic. While most people believe dental amalgam is all silver, it is in fact a mixture of several different metals including silver, tin, copper and occasionally zinc or palladium. Mercury, the component causing all the fuss, is added as a binding agent due to its pliability. It mixes well with the accompanying alloys, hardens quickly and is extremely durable. In fact, dental amalgam fillings have been used quite successfully in dental practices around the world for over 150 years. In the mid 1920’s a German chemist determined the binding agent in amalgam fillings was in fact releasing mercury vapor into the surrounding oral tissues. After years of extensive research Dr. Karl Frykholm of Sweden concluded that once an amalgam filling was covered in human salvia, it in essence sealed the tooth and mercury was no longer released. Throughout all these studies, the American Dental Association which was formed in 1859 approved and supported using amalgam fillings as an acceptable practice.
Years of research by some of the leading experts in the field of toxicity have yet to reach a general consensus on how much mercury is actually released; though most conclude mercury amounts discharged are very low. In fact, the majority of studies have determined that most people, including those with or without amalgam fillings, are exposed to much higher levels of mercury through both the environment and foods consumed. Bottom line: after extensive research there is no clear conclusive proof that amalgam fillings are harmful.
That said, over time dental amalgam does expand and contract and tiny gaps can occur causing new decay or possibility even microscopic fractures in the tooth or teeth. During your semi-annual visit we here at Ellis Dental always check to make sure your existing fillings are intact. If we notice something out of place or if you are experiencing any discomfort we will recommend replacing the existing filling with a tooth colored resin or possibly even a crown depending on the amount of trauma to the tooth. After extensive research, Dr. Ellis has determined this new composite filling material is comparable to dental amalgam while providing a more natural appearance.
Tired of having an unattractive mouth full of silver? All those amalgam fillings can easily be replaced for cosmetic purposes as well. Still have questions? Please don’t hesitate to discuss your concerns with Dr. Ellis during your next appointment.