Mercury fillings — otherwise known as amalgam fillings or silver fillings — are a type of dental filling made from a mixture of metals, including mercury.
While they’re durable and can last for many years, there is some concern over the safety of mercury fillings, particularly in children and pregnant women, and many people are opting for mercury removal at their dentist and to have them replaced with more biocompatible alternatives.
Here’s what you need to know about the safety of mercury fillings.
The Concerns Over Mercury Fillings
Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil. It exists in three forms: elemental (or metallic) mercury, inorganic mercury compounds and organic mercury compounds.
While mercury has its use in our lives, it is recognized as a toxic heavy metal. Chronic exposure to mercury can lead to neurological problems, including tremors, mood changes, memory problems and other adverse health effects.
Elemental mercury is the type of mercury found in dental amalgam fillings which react with other metals to form a stable compound.
The concern over dental amalgam mercury poisoning stems from the fact that small amounts of elemental mercury vapors can be released into your mouth and enter your bloodstream. This is more likely to occur when you chew or grind your teeth, or if you have a history of gum disease.
Pregnant women and young children are advised to avoid dental amalgam exposure, as it may harm the developing nervous system.
Safe Alternatives To Amalgam Dental Fillings
If you’re concerned about the safety of dental amalgams, you may want to ask your dentist about alternative options such as composite fillings. These are made from a resin material that contains no mercury.
Some health benefits of composite fillings:
- They are naturally adhesive and thus safer to install (they don’t create micro-fractures in the tooth due to forceful installation as is the case with dental amalgam).
- They do not expand and contract with temperature changes like mercury fillings do, which can create dental micro-fractures.
- They look and feel just like natural teeth, eliminating the “metal mouth” look that many people don’t like.
Why Mercury Removal Should Be Done By A Qualified Dental Professional
Holistic dentists need to know how to safely remove existing amalgam fillings without causing harm to you or themselves. The process of removing these mercury amalgam fillings can be dangerous if not done correctly, as mercury is a highly toxic metal.
If you are pregnant, it is especially important to avoid mercury exposure, as it can cause serious neurological problems in unborn babies.
Dental amalgam removal should only be done by qualified dental professionals who have the proper training and equipment to do so safely. If you are considering having your mercury dental fillings removed, be sure to find a holistic dentist who has experience with this procedure.
It’s Best To Avoid Dental Amalgams
If you have a cavity or tooth decay and need a filling or dental repair, talk to your dentist about alternatives to dental amalgams. There are several types of tooth-colored fillings available that are made from composite resin, glass ionomer or porcelain. These materials are not only safer than dental amalgams, but they also look more natural.