These silver/mercury fillings were first introduced in 1816. They are referred to as amalgam fillings because they are an amalgamation of different elements . No one at the time understood the hazard of this restoration. It’s just that they were better than the alternatives. Prior to amalgam fillings,thin sheets of lead were layered into a tooth’s cavity, not a great material. Variety of different fillers were experimented with,such as, cork, tin and resins like pine. Now you see why amalgam mercury fillings became so popular. Gold was also introduced but it was too expensive and not yet perfected. so amalgam fillings were revolutionary and inexpensive and sealed the tooth better than any other material at the time. What needs to be understood is that the largest component in these fillings is not silver but mercury and for marketing purposes silver fillings sounds better than calling it mercury filling. Mercury is a powerful poison,so much so that the World Health Organization (WHO) states that there is no safe level of mercury. In January of 2008 Norway and Sweden banned these restorations. What’s important to realize is that these fillings can release mercury vapor under different conditions. For instance if they come in contact with hot liquids or polishing of them during routine cleanings. the vapor can potentially be distributed throughout the body.
In our office we never place these fillings and we have even gone beyond that. We are also extremely careful when it comes time to replace them. We have implemented numerous technologies to safely remove them. Unfortunately no one realizes that quite a bit of mercury vapor is generated in this process. We go to great lengths to make sure none of the metal particles is ingested and vapor is safely neutralized so none of it comes into contact with the body. In upcoming blogs we will talk more about this important topic and give tips on reducing your exposure.