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NOVEMBER 2009
Are Silver Fillings Safe 
By Dr. Lee McFall DDS

Are my existing silver fillings safe?
The answer is yes. Amalgam is the most studied dental material of all time. Even though every certified scientific study of amalgam found that it was a safe material, recently the FDA has conducted it’s own study.  On July 28, 2009 the American Dental Association summarized the FDA study as follows “After years of careful investigation and the review of some 200 scientific studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today reaffirmed its view that dental amalgam is a safe, effective material for use in dental restorations.” For a news article by Reuters on the FDA ruling see:
click here
For the FDA’s complete statement see:
click here

But doesn’t amalgam contain mercury and isn’t mercury harmful?
Yes, amalgam contains mercury. Yes mercury is harmful.  However the mercury in amalgam is 99.999% bound chemically to the silver, and the amount of mercury exposure that you get from the amalgam fillings is extremely small. You get hundreds, perhaps thousands of times more mercury from the food that you eat (fish especially, but it is also in vegetables and fruits), than you do from the amalgam fillings in your teeth. You could think of it like table salt.  Table salt is technically ‘sodium chloride’ which is sodium chemically bound to chlorine.  If you drank some chlorine (Clorox bleach for example) it could kill you. But when it is bound to the sodium, and you eat it, it does not.

I have heard the amalgam fillings cause Alzheimer’s and other diseases like sjogrens syndrome and connective tissue diseases like lupus and scleroderma?
These claims are simply false.  If you go to the official web sites of these diseases you will find that amalgam is not a causative factor in any of these diseases.

Should I have my fillings replaced?
Yes and no.  The council on the American Dental Association code of ethics says that it is unethical for dentists to recommend removal of amalgams for health considerations (exception is for those patients who are allergic to the metals in amalgam).  However, it is ethical for dentists to replace amalgams in patients who request it, and to recommend their replacement if they need to be replaced because they are broken, cracked, or have decay getting around or under them.

Do dentists still put amalgams in their patients?
Yes, but as tooth-colored bonded fillings have improved over the years, fewer and fewer dentists are using amalgam.

Why have some countries banned the use of amalgam?
This is a waste disposal issue (mercury getting into the environment) not an issue of the health considerations of having amalgam fillings in patient’s teeth.

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