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  • Dr Vyla Ellis

Are my amalgam fillings making me sick?

Have you heard that silver fillings are bad for you? Are you wondering if its true? Difficult to sort out the facts from fiction? Let us explain...

What is amalgam?

Amalgam is a mixture of silver, mercury, tin and copper and has been used for fillings for 150 years. It is silver in colour, is very strong and for many years was the only practical option for fillings.

Is amalgam bad for your health?

The mercury content of amalgam causes debate over its possible health effects. There have been many comprehensive studies on amalgam and the amount of mercury it exposes patients to. Mercury can build up in our organs and in very high doses can cause anxiety, irritability, memory loss, headaches and fatigue. We are all exposed to mercury in our everyday environments and through the food we consume. At these low levels mercury has no bad health effects. Studies have concluded that the small amount of mercury to which a patient is exposed from an amalgam filling is low enough as to have no adverse effect.

My dentist told me I needed an amalgam filling replaced. Why?

Nothing lasts forever and this applies to fillings too. Think of all the food you have enjoyed over the years, your fillings are under a huge amount of force each day to help you chew your food. Over time this results in fillings wearing out. Fillings may break, start to leak or cause fracture lines in the tooth. These are all reasons that a filling may need to be replaced. Amalgam doesn't flex well but our teeth do. Over time as we chew on our amalgam fillings the tooth flexes but the amalgam doesn't and this can lead to fracture lines in the teeth and if not treated these fracture lines can result in teeth breaking.

If amalgam isn't dangerous then why is it that you don't place amalgam fillings any more?

Today there are better materials than amalgam. For small fillings a composite resin can be used to restore the tooth and for large fillings ceramic is an option. Both of these products are tooth coloured and they adhere to the tooth.They require less drilling which means that you keep more of your natural tooth. They flex with your tooth which means that they don't cause pieces of tooth to break away. They look fantastic and they safe. For these reasons we do not place amalgam fillings.

Do I need my amalgam fillings replaced?

Until such time as your fillings wear out or cause fracture lines in your teeth they do not need to be replaced. If you have old amalgam fillings it is best to have them checked every 6 months to ensure they are still intact. If you decide that you would like your amalgams replaced due to health or cosmetic concerns we are happy to help.

To find out more about amalgam replacement click here.

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