Are Amalgam Fillings Safe?

Fillings are typically composed of a substance known as dental amalgam.  This substance is a combination of several metals, most commonly silver, tin, mercury, and copper.

Dental amalgam has been the most widely used filling substance for the last 150 years, but in the last few decades some serious concerns have been raised over the presence of mercury in these fillings.

Mercury is a naturally-occurring element, one that most people have some degree of exposure to.  Traces can be found in the air, in water, in the soil and in food.  Very low levels of mercury exposure pose no risk to a person’s health, but rare cases of over-exposure – such as with workers handling mercury for their jobs – can lead to symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, memory loss, headaches, and fatigue.

Due to the fears that have been raised over the presence of mercury in amalgam fillings and the possibility of it resulting in mercury poisoning, the FDA began a series of studies.  In 2009, they concluded that from years of studies and research, there is no threat of amalgam fillings resulting in mercury poisoning.  In fact, the FDA pronounced the amount of mercury exposure originating from a filling to be less than the mercury one is exposed to simply by breathing the air.

As a result, the FDA affirms that the use of amalgam fillings is safe for all adults and for children over 6 years of age.

The only exceptions are pregnant women, people with a mercury allergy, and people who already have a greater exposure to mercury due to their job.

In these cases, there are several other options available when it comes to what a filling is composed of.  In the last several years, several tooth-colored fillings have been developed.  These are typically made of porcelain or composite resin.  However, these fillings are not nearly as hardy or durable as an amalgam filling.

If you have any questions or concerns over the quality of your own fillings, please give us a call!  At Montgomery Dentistry, your concerns are very important to us.  We would love to hear from you!

Photo credits:  header photo


Dr. Jay L. Robertson

Dr. Jay Robertson joined Montgomery Dentistry in July 2008. He is from Montgomery and is a graduate of Saint James School, Birmingham-Southern College, and the University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Dentistry. He is a member of the American Dental Association, the Alabama Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry. When not at work, Dr. Robertson enjoys playing in various sports leagues around the city and is an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Montgomery.