The Great Amalgam Debate

For over a century, dentists have been using mercury/amalgam alloys as fillings for cavities. Amalgam restorations (silver fillings) consist of a combination of the metals silver, tin, copper, and zinc. They also contain mercury (and some of the older amalgam restorations contain considerable amounts of mercury). The fact that amalgam is inexpensive, durable, and easy for the dentist to work with in your mouth makes it the most widely-used restorative material in the world today. However, the mercury content of amalgam has been the subject of debate within the dental community for more than 150 years. It’s a debate that’s getting a lot of attention these days.

Medical and dental science has known for centuries that mercury is highly toxic. It’s been proven that even just the smallest amount of mercury in a human body can damage cells. While some experts still say that there is no cause for concern over the health-related effects of mercury, a growing group of medical and dental professionals believe that mercury introduced into the human body does, in fact, produce a long list of negative health effects. These negative health effects include neurotoxicity, renal (kidney) dysfunction, birth defects, reduced ability to fight illness and disease, and compromised general health.

What’s more, even low-level exposure to mercury has been shown to produce such symptoms as anxiety, fatigue, stress intolerance, headache, and depression. In 1984, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology was formed to research the safety of amalgam restorations. Today, despite the fact that the US Public Health Service still says that there is no link between amalgams and health problems, a growing number of scientific studies indicate that amalgam mercury indeed can and does pose a health threat to patients.

Your comfort and safety is always our priority. As a result of the ongoing health controversy surrounding the use of mercury in amalgam fillings, our office policy will be to use only ceramic, porcelain or composite restorations that are stronger, better looking and environmentally friendly, when your restorations are being replaced due to decay, fracture or ill fitting restorations.

This office has taken steps to minimize your exposure to mercury vapor during removal of old amalgam fillings, to remove 99.5% of the total mercury from the dental office wastewater and to protect the environment of the local community with safe packaging and recycling of silver amalgams that have been replaced with mercury-free restorations.