Are Silver Fillings Safe

Wow.  Here we go.  As an Aurora dentist, I have heard just about everything there is to hear about the heated silver (Amalgam) filling debate.  So, what’s the official line?  What is my personal philosophy?  What filling materials do I prefer?  If you’ve come seeking a definte end to this debate, you’re at the wrong place…the debate will rage on despite the opinions of one dentist in Aurora, CO but hopefully I can help shed some light on this topic!  Aurora, CO dentist has the answers!


Silver (amalgam) material is still about 50% pure mercury.  Does this make you uneasy?  It makes a lot of people uneasy.  There haven’t been many good scientific studies (see this article:  what makes a scientific study good?) relating mercury fillings to any dangers, mercury by itself is not healthy for you.  At all.  You will probably never find mercury pills at your neighborhood pharmacy.  So, why are we putting it into our mouths?


The reason silver fillings are still done, even by many dentists in Aurora, CO, is because under some conditions, it’s still the best material available (best meaning longest-lasting and most predictable).  The American Dental Association’s official stand is that amalgam fillings are safe.  Furthermore, the ADA also recommends that dentists in Aurora, CO (or anywhere, for that matter) not remove silver fillings simply because of the perceived dangers of mercury.  In fact, did you know that any dentist in Aurora, CO that advertises or promotes removing silver fillings simply because of the dangers of mercury is in danger of losing his or her license?  It’s illegal to say this as an Aurora, CO dentist!


So, are they dangerous or aren’t they?  The fact is, when you have a silver filling, the time when you get the MOST mercury in your system is when it’s first put in, and when it’s removed.  So why would a dentist in Aurora, CO tell you to take our your dangerous silver fillings when the simple act of removing the filling actually doses you with more mercury than just leaving it there?  My opinion: greed.  Removing silver fillings and replacing them with white fillings simply for the benefit of getting the mercury out of your body is expensive, and someone benefits, don’t they?  Beware of dentists who do this.  They are behaving unethically.


Silver fillings lock into a tooth like a puzzle piece, and do not bond directly to tooth structure.  Most patients don’t know this.  White fillings on the other hand bond to the tooth and don’t require as much bulk, which translates to more conservative drilling (in other words, we don’t have to drill away as much tooth structure in some white-filling cases as we would have to in mercury fillings).


Having said this, I ought to also give my personal philosophy.  My personal and professional philosophy as an Aurora, CO dentist is that patients have autonomy (meaning you have freedom of choice).  If a patient has a silver filling that could be compromised and the patient really doesn’t like the silver for cosmetic reasons or health reasons, I will honor their wishes every single time ad I will remove the filling and replace it with a white filling if that is what a patient wants.  In addition, because most patients are cosmetic-conscious today, and because the systems in my own practice are far more suited to placing white fillings, as a dentist in Aurora, CO I place white fillings almost exclusively unless a patient requests otherwise.  My opinion is that a tooth should look white, not black, and if we can get a good, predictable long-term result with a white filling, I will choose that one every time.  In addition, I don’t usually put silver or amalgam fillings in my pediatric patients.  I wouldn’t do it to my own kids, and I don’t like to do it to anyone else’s either.


Patients should be aware that tooth-colored filling materials are also usually more expensive.  Insurance companies are covering them more and more regularly, but there still may be a higher charge to you.


If you have questions about mercury fillings or white fillings, we are unique among dentists in Aurora, CO in that we offer free consultations to patients with these types of questions.  If you would like to talk more about your treatment options or the science behind filling materials, schedule your free consultation with an aurora, CO dentist by calling 303-693-1215 or by filling out our contact form here!