Q: Hey doc, I’ve heard that silver fillings can cause all kinds of health problems. I’m thinking of having mine replaced. What do you think?
A: Great question! I’m surprised no one has thrown this one at me yet.
“Silver” fillings have been around for a long, long, long time. I know there are many people, dentists alike, that are concerned the materials in these types of fillings can cause health problems (the type and scope being too numerous to mention). In truth, silver fillings contain very little silver. They are an amalgam of metals mainly composed of silver, mercury, tin, zinc and copper. The concern seems to lie primarily with the mercury content in the filling material itself combined with the “leaching” of that material into the body.
Many studies have been done and the material has been proven safe. Although, many naysayers will disagree with this fact. Does anyone have a retired dentist friend up north that they play golf with during the summer?
These dentists used to mix the filling material by hand without gloves but they are still swinging those irons. The fact of the matter is that technology, being what it is, has moved into the future.
here are now better, more conservative options for filling teeth but that does not mean that you should have all of your fillings replaced. Most of us had those silver filling placed when we were young and in our cavity prone years.
It is true that as the materials age they begin to corrode and leak allowing cavity causing bacteria and acids to begin to breakdown the tooth around the filling.
It is also very common for teeth that have large silver fillings to break. This is due to the mercury content in those fillings which is soft and has the ability to contract and expand. The end result is a cracked or broken tooth. In those cases, the tooth should be fixed.
These types of silver fillings aren’t used much today. It’s not that they are harmful or bad there is just better technology available than there was in the past.
Dr. Eck can be reached at (239) 389-9400 or on the Web at marcodentalcare.com. His office is located in the SunTrust Bank building in suite 205.