Silver Amalgam Restorations
What is Silver Amalgam?
Silver amalgam (a.k.a. dental amalgam, or silver filling) is considered a safe, affordable and durable material that has been used to restore the teeth of millions of people around the world, including more than 100 million Americans.
It is a specially proportioned mixture of the metals silver, copper, tin, mercury, and sometimes zinc. Small traces of other metals may also be included. The mercury chemically binds (amalgamates) these metals into a hard, stable and safe metal alloy. Dental amalgam has been used for more than 150 years and, during that time, has established an extensively reviewed record of safety and effectiveness.
Is Silver Amalgam Safe to Use?
Some disturbing mass media reports on silver amalgam have been inaccurate. Consider the following information before drawing your own conclusions:
In 1998 the American Dental Association's Council on Scientific Affairs issued a report on its review of the recent scientific research on dental amalgam. This report remains the current standard scientific review on the subject. The report contains the following conclusions:
The World Dental Federation (F.D.I.) and the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) attested to the safety and effectiveness of dental amalgam in 1997in a joint consensus statement issued which remains in effect.
The United States Public Health Service conducted extensive scientific reviews and issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use silver amalgam, except in the extremely rare case of allergy to any one of the components of silver amalgam. Other agencies of the U.S. government have endorsed silver amalgam as a safe and effective restorative material. These include the:
Food and Drug Administration
National Institute of Health Technology Assessment Conference
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
The U.S. Public Health Service review concluded there is
The American Dental Association continues to endorse amalgam as a "...valuable, viable, and safe choice for dental patients and concurs with the findings of the U.S. Public Health Service that amalgam has "...continuing value in maintaining oral health."
A number of these reports agree it is inadvisable to have silver amalgam restorations (fillings) removed unnecessarily because it can cause structural damage to healthy teeth and would pose a significantly risk to general health than leaving well functioning silver amalgam restorations undisturbed. The Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania include regulations on the replacement of silver amalgam to protect patients. These laws place strict limitations on removal of silver amalgam restorations and prohibit dentists from recommending removal simply to cure systemic disease or protect general health. These laws contain the following statement:
The well regarded, independent consumer research group, Consumer Reports noted in 1991 that:
If you have further concerns, discuss them with your personal dentist.