I Have Metal Amalgam Fillings: Is That OK?

Jan 25, 2024
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If you have metal amalgam fillings in your mouth, you may wonder if that’s okay. Here’s what you should know.

Metal amalgam fillings are an old standard. If you’ve gotten filings in your lifetime, your older fillings may be metal. Is it safe to still have them in your mouth? In some cases, removal may stir up more mercury, which is the reason for concern about metal amalgam. 

At Whole Body Dental in Bellevue, Washington, we offer restorative dentistry which involves safely removing metal amalgam fillings from your mouth and replacing them with cosmetic resin fillings instead. Here, our providers explain more about metal amalgam fillings and your alternatives. 

What are the different types of fillings?

When you get a cavity, we need to drill into your tooth to remove it. Then, we placed a filling in the parts we drilled. The old method most dentists used was to use a metal amalgam which was silver in color. 

It’s a mix of several metals like silver and copper but it’s usually 50% mercury. A lot of people are now questioning the decision to put mercury into their bodies intentionally.

The alternative is composite resin, porcelain, or ceramic. These materials are still pretty durable for filling a tooth, although they are a bit more expensive.

The effects of having metal amalgam fillings

Metal amalgam fillings really aren’t that great. They’re cheaper, that’s for certain. But even the CDC explains that metal fillings do contain mercury, which is released as a vapor into your mouth over time. 

The CDC says that they’re not recommended for certain sensitive populations, such as pregnant women, children under 6, or people with neurological impairment or kidney dysfunctions. Even if you’re not in one of those high-risk groups, it may not be a risk you want to take. 

Since metal fillings stay in your mouth forever and mercury can be released whenever you chew or grind your teeth, it’s an important decision to consider for your health. 

Should you get rid of existing metal amalgam fillings?

It depends on the number of metal amalgam fillings you have. If you have multiple metal amalgam fillings, you might decide it’s more important to get some of them out as soon as possible.

It also depends on which teeth they’re in. A molar, for example, has a lot more tooth surface to be filled by the metal amalgam. Smaller teeth, especially near the front of your mouth, may not be as bad.

In general, we do recommend replacing them, but we can often do so over time. We often prefer not to remove too many at once because each time we remove one, it releases some mercury. Often, we remove the largest ones first because those have the greatest impact on reducing your body's burden of mercury. 

If you’ve decided that you’d like to start removing the metal fillings from your mouth, we’re happy to help. Contact the providers at Whole Body Dental in Bellevue, Washington, today or request an appointment online.