I often get concerns from people about the use of dental amalgam (often termed “silver fillings”) because of information floating around the Internet, the media, and as many places as one might imagine. It seems always to be sensational news because everyone likes a smoking gun!
My first response is that as recently as a few years ago, the CDC did a mega-study on dental amalgam, looking at over 970 independent studies on dental amalgam. IN NOT ONE did the CDC find any negative issues with the use of amalgam.
That said, do I use amalgam in my practice? Generally, no. And why? Mostly people want their teeth to look as natural as possible, and the tooth-colored materials we use today have come a long way from 20 years ago when I began using them routinely for restoring people’s teeth. Back then, insurance companies didn’t like to pay for them, and so there was always a big hassle between insurance companies, patients, and of course, us. Gradually, insurance companies began providing benefits for these tooth-colored fillings, and it became less of a problem. However, with some insurance companies, it still is a problem.
I’ve also had several patients over the years who have come to me wanting all of their “silver fillings” out, convinced these fillings were the cause of their ills. Not a single patient who did this noticed a difference in their health, which didn’t surprise me, as there have never been any reputable studies that have supported this.
ALL SAID, there continues to be a slow and gradual movement toward using filling materials other than amalgam, and not because of alleged health concerns. This movement will likely gain gradual momentum, and dentistry will probably none day look back on the use of amalgam (which has been in use for over 100 years) as “old school”. Until then, amalgam remains a viable restorative option for patients. Yes, amalgam fillings do have their drawbacks, but so do any other restorative materials, most of which have not been studied NEARLY as extensively as amalgam has been studied.
Remember, you know you can find just about anything on the Internet these days, and you will continue to see the occasional news story about dental amalgam. The best source of information about restorative materials is your dentist, assuming he or she keeps up with current research.
When in doubt, ask questions. It’s your body!