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For more than a century, dentists have used silver fillings, or fillings made from amalgam.  Fillings made from amalgam are fifty percent mercury, with other metals like copper, tin, and zinc that make up the rest.  Amalgam or silver fillings have long been considered the best option for dental fillings because they are affordable and durable.  In fact, they can last for years with proper care.  But, recently a debate has been brewing about silver fillings.  Are fillings made of amalgam that contain mercury safe for patients?  Is mercury released into the body due to silver filling, and does it have a negative impact on a patients’ health? And, do silver fillings that contain mercury harmfully affect the environment? Lastly, what are the alternatives to silver fillings? And are these alternatives safer than silver fillings? Please read further as we discuss what are the safest fillings for teeth.  


Are Silver Fillings Safe?


Silver fillings are used commonly because they are affordable and durable.  But, does that mean that silver fillings are safe? The ADA has claimed for a long time that silver fillings are safe because they only release minute traces of mercury vapor, and this low amount of mercury is not considered harmful.  But, as this debate wages on, a lot of dental professionals disagree. One reason for the disagreement is that the ADA does warn that silver fillings are toxic before placement and after removal.  And, there is no proof that amalgam fillings suddenly turn non toxic in a patients’ mouth.  Plus, there is a dispute about silver fillings and everyday activities like eating, drinking and brushing teeth.  Can these activities cause silver fillings to release mercury vapor?  How about a patient who is a teeth grinder? Does grinding teeth release mercury vapor? The World Health Organization states that chewing food, drinking hot liquids, and grinding teeth can release up to three to seventeen micrograms of mercury vapor per day. However, the ADA claims that amount to be only one to three micrograms of mercury vapor released daily from normal activities.  Unfortunately, it is still being debated how much mercury vapor is harmful. Fans of silver fillings say the mercury level is too low to be harmful, while critics say that research has not proven silver fillings to be safe.  One thing that can be agreed on is that mercury can harmfully affect the environment, by polluting water after many dentist fail to separate mercury from their wastewater, which releases the substance into the atmosphere. 


Other Options to Choose From For Fillings


There are some alternatives to silver fillings such as fillings made with composite resin, porcelain, gold, and glass ionomer.  The most popular of these choices seems to be fillings made from composite resin because they match the color of natural teeth, and the cost is moderate.  There is an argument that fillings made with these alternative materials are not as durable.  However, with good oral hygiene and regular dentist visits, fillings made from composite resin can last up to 20 years.   

For more information, contact a professional dentist at Parkview Dentistry.

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