The Safety of Amalgam Fillings
Many of our patients at our dental office in Toms River, NJ ask about the safety of amalgam fillings or what you may call silver-colored fillings. There has been talk and concerns raised about amalgams and there safety for the past several years. Because mercury is part of amalgams and mercury is known to be a toxic substance, we understand our patients concerns. Some people believe that several diseases are the product of silver-colored fillings. The diseases most discussed are Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and multiple sclerosis.
Both The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA), as well as many other public health agencies have said that amalgam fillings are safe. They further report that any correlation mercury-based amalgams and disease are not conclusive. It is unfortunate but the cause of multiple sclerosis, autism and Alzheimer’s diseases has not been found yet. There is also no scientific proof that removing these types of fillings will cure those that have them of the disease in quetion.
In March 2002, The FDA reconfirmed amalgam safety. Even though amalgams do contain mercury, mixing it with other metals like tin, zinc, copper and silver will form a stable alloy. These types of alloys have been used by dentists to fill and preserve decaying teeth for over 100 years. And there have been hundreds of millions of teeth with silver-colored fillings. There are some rather large-scale case studies being done at the The National Institutes of Health. The organization’s goal is to get answers to the multitude of questions that have been brought forth about silver-colored fillings.
One other concern has been about the vapor that is released in small amounts by the mercury in amalgam fillings. Again, according to the American Dental Association, there has been no evidence to prove the mercury vapor release results in adverse health effects.
What about an allergy to amalgam? Can this happen?
It is indeed possible to have an allergic reaction to amalgam. The ADA reports that there have been less that 100 cases of this reported. What is thought is that one of the metals in the alloy triggers the allergic reaction. An amalgam allergy would be similar to what happens with a skin allergy, which includes skin irritation and itching. Usually those patients who have reacted to amalgam adversely also have a family or medical history of allergies to metals. Should that be the case, they are other methods to treat decaying tooth.
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