Amalgam fillings are silver in color and have been used in dentistry for over 150 years to fill a hole in the tooth caused by decay. While most agree that silver fillings are not the most attractive tooth restorations, there is much debate about the repercussions of a more important matter: what they are made of…mercury.
Each amalgam filling is made up of about 50% mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can lead to a myriad of adverse effects on a person’s health, including autoimmune disease, chronic illness, neurological issues, and even mental disorders. According to one survey, 76% of Americans are unaware that silver fillings contained mercury, and 92% of those wish they had been informed about the risks before their fillings were placed.
Special precautionary warnings have been put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advising people to avoid using mercury thermometers when possible to prevent potential health and environmental risks. Energy efficient light bulbs (CFLs) also contain a small amount of mercury that can be released when a bulb is broken, and warnings that encourage proper disposal of CFLs have been issued for the same reasons.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 53% of total mercury emissions into our environment is from dental amalgams and laboratory and medical devices. Amalgam fillings graduated from a Class I (low risk) to a Class II (moderate risk) device in 2009, but particular restrictions have not been established because US studies have not proven without a doubt that mercury is the sole cause for the particular diseases and/or side effects sited. Conversely, several studies conducted in Sweden showed that 78% of those with pre-existing neurological and health issues reported improvement in their health once their amalgam fillings were removed.
Today, around 47% of all dentists still place mercury-laden amalgam fillings on a regular basis. Although there are no restrictions on amalgam fillings in the United States, the risks are still very real. Most mercury is released when amalgam fillings are either placed or removed, but other factors can increase the risk for harmful mercury exposure from amalgam fillings already in place. Such factors include the age of the fillings, the number of fillings in the mouth, the amount of acid intake, and the extent of bruxism (grinding of the teeth). Dr. Jamie Sands is very cautious when removing mercury filling and places something called a “rubber dam” to ensure minimal exposure of mercury to her patients.
Dr. Jamie Sands offers porcelain fillings at her Studio City practice, which are an incredible alternative to silver fillings. Not only do porcelain fillings have beautiful, natural-looking aesthetic quality, but they are also 100% safe, effective, durable, and mercury free!
If you have concerns about your current amalgam fillings or you are considering a better alternative for your tooth restorations, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Jamie Sands by calling (818) 306-5153 today. For your convenience, you may also fill out our online contact form.