Do your silver fillings contain mercury?
The answer is YES! Surprised? You aren’t alone. Most people have no idea that the old, silver fillings in their mouths are full of mercury. Most ‘silver’ fillings contain about 50% mercury. Mercury is the second most toxic substance on this planet. It is toxic to biological systems, can damage your skin, lungs, kidneys, and can cross the blood brain barrier causing permanent damage to your brain and nervous system. It has been banned for use in dentistry in almost all of Europe, and now there are 5 states with informed consent laws in place that require dental offices to inform their patients of its true content as well as to inform them of available alternative materials. I think you can go round and round about this issue, but the bottom line really asks the question: Why place mercury amalgam in the first place? The answer is that it’s cheap and easy to place. But I see patients in my practice everyday who have broken teeth and toothaches caused by old mercury fillings that have expanded with temperature changes like the mercury in old thermometers. These teeth now need extensive restorations which sometimes including root canals, crowns, or extractions and bridges. I would be remiss to point out that there is often decay under these old fillings because they were done before bonded restorations which protect the inside of the tooth were available.
The truth is that dentistry has progressed since amalgam was first used in the early 1800’s. Could you imagine your doctor using techniques that were in use during the Civil War? We now have safer, more esthetic materials that offer natural, non-toxic alternatives to amalgam. Why would you not want to choose these over mercury amalgam? But know that it is also more difficult for the dentist to place and not all dentists get the training needed to get predictable, beautiful results. Make sure your dentist has taken hands-on courses to enhance his or her skills. It can be the difference that gives you a healthy, beautiful smile.
So, it goes without saying that I do not place mercury amalgam restorations. I have not placed amalgam since the early 1990’s. I have lots of information about mercury amalgam below including warning labels from the manufacturers themselves as well as some pictures of what happens to teeth with amalgam in them. If you are interested in learning more, please read my blog about mercury amalgam.
Actual Disclaimer and Safety Warning
from a Mercury Amalgam Manufacturer
The use of amalgam is contraindicated in:
- Proximal or occlusal contact to dissimilar metal restorations
- In patients with sever renal deficiency
- In patients with known allergies to amalgams
- For retrograde or endodontic filling
- As a filling material for a cast crown
- In children 6 and under
- In expectant mothers
- In patients with compromised immune systems
This product contains mercury, which is known by the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Prior to use, read the MSDS information and product instructions for this item.
Exposure to mercury may cause irritation to skin, eyes, respiratory tract and mucous membrane. In individual cases, hypersensitivity reactions, allergies, or electronically caused local reactions have been observed. Due to electrochemical processes, the lichen planus of the mucosa may develop.
Mercury may also be a skin sensitizer, pulmonary sensitizer, nephrotoxin and neurotoxin.
After placement or removal of amalgam restorations, there is a temporary increase of the mercury concentration in the blood and urine.
Mercury expressed during condensation and unset amalgam may cause amalgamation or galvanic effect if in contact with other metal restorations. If symptoms persist, the amalgam should be replaced by a different material.
Removal of clinically acceptable amalgam restorations should be avoided to minimize mercury exposure, especially in expectant mothers.
The number of amalgam restorations should be kept to a minimum.
Inhalation of mercury vapor by dental staff may be avoided by proper handling of the amalgam, the use of masks, along with adequate ventilation.
Avoid contact with the skin and wear safety glasses and gloves.
Store amalgam scrap in well sealed containers. Regulations for disposal must be observed.
“Do ‘silver fillings’ give off mercury? Watch this and decided for yourself!”