Dental Amalgam: What It Is & Why It’s Bad For You

Author: Dr Aushi Patel

Silver fillings have been placed in teeth since the early 1800’s. Also known as dental amalgam, dentists around the world have always regarded this material as strong, cheap and easy to use. The safety, however, of these “silver fillings” has also been a topic of debate amongst the dental and medical profession over the years.

What exactly is dental amalgam? 

An “amalgam filling” is an alloy (mixture) of silver, tin and copper which is combined with an equal amount of mercury. The “silver” fillings in your mouth contain about 50% mercury.

Contrary to previous belief, numerous scientific studies have shown that amalgam fillings can release significant amounts of mercury over the lifetime of the filling. The amount can depend on the number of fillings, consumption of hot liquids and teeth grinding.

Are amalgam filling bad for you?

A 2005 World Health Organisation report states that mercury may cause harmful effects to the nervous, digestive, respiratory, immune systems and to the kidneys, besides causing lung damage. Adverse health effects from mercury exposure can be: tremors, impaired vision and hearing, paralysis, insomnia, emotional instability, developmental deficits during foetal development, and attention deficit and developmental delays during childhood. Recent studies suggest that mercury may have no threshold below which some adverse effects do not occur.”

In other words, there is no safe level of exposure to mercury.

Several European countries including Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark have stopped using mercury amalgam as a filling material in recent years.

Mercury is also known to be released during the placement, replacement, and removal of dental mercury amalgam fillings. The mercury in fillings releases low levels of mercury vapour, which is absorbed into the bloodstream and dispersed throughout the body.

Getting some fillings done? Choose the right dentist!

It is important to distinguish between a mercury free dentist and a mercury safe dentist. A mercury free dentist will not use mercury amalgam as a filling material but may not apply safety measures to protect you (and them) from mercury exposure.

At Anokhi Dental we are SMART accredited and follow strict protocols to ensure your protection when having mercury amalgam fillings removed. SMART is the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique, which is a set of strict safety measures to reduce mercury exposure during dental amalgam filling removal. These protocols were developed as a result of scientific research collected by the IAOMT. Read our next blog to find out more about SMART!

If you’d like to learn more about amalgam fillings or talk about getting some fillings done, feel free to contact us on (02) 9264 5195 or by filling out our contact form.

PLEASE NOTE: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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