Have you heard the controversy about silver fillings? Here is the information we know, and how we handle silver fillings at Bond Family and Implant Dentistry.
When a tooth is damaged by decay, Dr. Bond removes the decay and cleans out the affected area. Then, in order to restore the tooth to its previous shape and function, he fills the cleaned out cavity with a filling material. For the past 150 years and in millions of cases, dentists have used dental amalgam material as the filler, resulting in what is commonly known as a silver filling. Silver fillings are composed of a number of metals- mostly silver, mercury, tin and copper. They are strong enough to hold up well over time, especially in teeth that experience a lot of pressure from chewing.
When silver fillings were first introduced, it was believed that the mercury they contained was inert, or chemically inactive. It has since been discovered that the mercury in silver fillings does, in fact, release small amounts of vapor as the filling gets older and more worn. This sounds alarming because high exposure to mercury has been known to cause anxiety, irritability, memory loss, headaches and fatigue. However, the harm mercury causes is dependent on the total level of mercury in the body. Small amounts of exposure, like from silver fillings, do not cause high levels of total mercury in the body and do not appear to result in any side effects.
At Bond Family and Implant Dentistry, we are committed to your oral health, as well as your systemic health. We aim to use the safest possible materials to treat your tooth decay. Even though the US Food and Drug Administration has determined that silver fillings are a safe option, we use them only in the rare instance when no other filling material will work, and only with the patient’s full understanding and consent. Instead, we routinely use composite resin, a tooth-colored material that is made of plastic and glass.
What if you already have a silver filling? Should you have it replaced? At Bond Family and Implant Dentistry we will remove your silver fillings in an environmentally safe way and replace them with composite resin if that is what you want to do. However, replacing a silver filling before it is worn or broken is not recommended by the American Dental Association. Replacement creates the risk of injuring healthy surrounding tooth, and studies show that mercury is released at a higher rate during removal than when the filling is in your mouth. If you are concerned about your silver fillings we would be happy to discuss this issue with you at your next appointment.