Amalgam - Namibian Dental Association

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Q: Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?

A: Over the last couple of years some concern about the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings have been regularly expressed.  Amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin and zinc, mixed with mercury.  Dentists have used this mixture of metals to fill teeth for more than 100 years.  The controversy is due to claims that the exposure to the vapor and minute particles from the mercury can cause a variety of health problems.

Although some studies indicate that there are no measurable health risks to patients who have amalgam fillings, we do know that mercury is a toxic material when we are exposed at high, unsafe levels.

With respect to amalgam fillings, one party of thought is that when the mercury combines with the other components of the filling, it becomes an inactive substance that is safe. The opposing view holds that due to the constant attrition and degradation of amalgam fillings in the mouth, mercury are actually set free in small amounts and that this can lead to health problems.
 
There are numerous other options to amalgam fillings, including composite (tooth-colored) fillings, porcelain, and gold fillings.

The NDA is of the opinion that patients should be allowed a choice regarding the type of filling material used in their mouths and we encourage you to discuss the options with your dentist so you can determine the best option for you.

More information about the opposing views on amalgam safety can be found at:
http://www.yourhealthbase.com/amalgams.html
http://www.ada.org/public/topics/fillings.asp#amalgam

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