Nov 08

Are amalgam fillings safe with the mercury component in them?

Nov 08

Getting dental fillings is a common procedure among many adults and some children. Amalgam fillings, now a declining choice, used to be one of the most widely used dental fillings by people affected with tooth decay. They have been used for more than a hundred years by dental health professionals because they have been considered reliable and durable enough.

But the main concern of people looking to get them is, are amalgam fillings safe. This is a valid question to ask before going ahead with the procedure due to the mercury contents in these silver fillings. We already know mercury is a harmful component if it comes in contact with our body, especially internally.

Thus, the concern regarding having teeth fillings that have mercury components. But then why doctors and researchers have cleared amalgam fillings to be safe enough for use, is something to ponder. These and some other questions regarding the safety of amalgam fillings will be answered below.

Are amalgam fillings unsafe in the long term?

The reasoning behind the shade of unsafety around amalgam fillings comes from the use of mercury in the making of it. Even though it is fused with other metals such as silver, copper, and a few others, the presence of mercury is still cause for alarm for many.

Mercury in its element is prone to release a form of mercury vapor, that is as dangerous as any form of it. These vapors tend to release anytime you are around mercury, therefore putting it in your mouth in the form of fillings seems a dangerous choice to make. However, many scientists argue that mingling it with other metals, such as those involved in the making of amalgam fillings, reduces its level of toxicity.

According to ADA, in the International Journal of Dentistry, mercury released from dental amalgam restorations does not contribute to systemic disease or systemic toxicological effects. This is the common view of the dental professionals as well as researchers in the field, as its backdrop has been the study for whether amalgam fillings should be discontinued or not.

ADA is just one organization however, the claim is backed by several others, including FDA as well. Having several of these organizations back up this matter seems to relieve the general audience, as many still opt for amalgam fillings. However, talking to a professional dentist might help you identify things more clearly, as we have a certain group of people that are at high risk to get affected by mercury exposure.

What are the high-risk groups?

Almost all medical procedures have a certain amount of benefits as well as risks associated with them, no matter how minute. The ratio of benefits to risks can vary and depends upon many factors involved in the procedure. However, in the case of amalgam fillings, we know a certain group of components that are prone to get affected negatively from it, more than others. These are people in the high-risk group that might be vulnerable in front of mercury exposure.

Fetuses and children, especially below the age of 6, when they are in the stage where their brain is developing, can get negatively impacted by mercury. This also includes women who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or nursing women whom their child depends upon to feed are all in the high-risk group.

People with pre-existing neurological diseases are also on the list. Previously, it was thought to cause or at least lead to neurological or auto-immune disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease. But several researches were conducted on the matter, and Alzheimer's Association itself stated that there is no scientific evidence that connects amalgam fillings as the cause of Alzheimer's. Many international public health agencies have endorsed the use of these silver fillings due to the ease of procedure, their reasonable price, and their durability.

Another high-risk group of people is those with any previously existing kidney issues. This list lastly includes either those allergic to mercury or other metals involving amalgam fillings.

What are my alternatives?

Talking about alternatives to amalgam fillings is a safe route to take for not just people who are in the high-risk groups but also for those that do not prefer the shining silver of the amalgam fillings in their teeth. For some it’s about the material, it’s about the look, and others are only looking for the safest option available.

There are other options that you can opt for of course, but there are benefits you might only be able to attain through amalgam fillings. For example, if you are looking for options that are safe and similar in appearance to your teeth, you can go for either composite fillings or glass ionomer fillings. They can match the exact color of your teeth and are safe enough without any level of toxicity. However, they are more expensive than amalgam fillings and they don’t last as long.

Another option to go for is gold fillings, which are made up of gold as the name suggests. These are safe, long-lasting but are not very reasonable in terms of cost. And you can detect that easily because they are made of real gold, which is expensive. Therefore, no matter the choice you have to make a sacrifice one way or another.

To summarize it all, the answer to ‘are amalgam fillings safe’ is yes, they are, as it is declared by many health agencies and professionals in the field. But you should find your most comfortable option, whether or not you are part of the high-risk individuals that may get more negatively impacted by the use of mercury. Reach out to your dentist, and talk this out properly before you make any irreversible decisions.