Should I Replace My Amalgam Fillings?

Dental amalgam has filled cavities for over 150 years. Amalgam is a metal composite. Within the mix are amounts of silver, tin, copper, and sometimes zinc, palladium, or indium. Another element used is mercury. Due to recent buildups of mercury in fish and local bodies of water, many individuals are concerned about amalgam fillings and the levels of mercury in their bodies.

Mercury is a naturally occurring metal found in our environment. At low levels, mercury does not cause harm to the human body. Exposure to higher levels – for instance, through work environments – can result in symptoms like anxiety, irritability, memory loss, headaches, and fatigue. So, is there enough mercury in amalgam fillings to cause these symptoms?

Although more extensive research is still underway, many findings show mercury exposure from amalgam fillings is less than exposure from the environment, or even the food we eat. In 2009, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an evaluation of mercury used in amalgam fillings. They found no reason to limit the use of amalgam, and concluded that amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children over six years of age. Therefore, amalgam continues to be used in dentistry. It is telling, however, that the younger your dentist, the less likely they are to recommend the use of amalgam fillings, chiefly due to the unknown factors surrounding the use of mercury and other heavy metals in the mouth. Wherever possible, the Marconi Dental Group prefers to avoid the use of mercury in our dental practice.

Whether you install or have metal fillings for cavities, replacing amalgam fillings is required if they fail or are excessively worn. If you have concerns over amalgam fillings, modern practice offers alternatives like porcelain or composite resin. As with amalgam, each type of filling has its own pros and cons. Please call the Marconi Dental Group to schedule an appointment so your dentist can discuss your concerns with you.

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