Controversy over metal fillings, also known as dental amalgam, started boiling in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until last year that the FDA posted a precaution on its website about potential mercury problems for pregnant women and young children. However, many experts insist mercury poisoning from fillings is virtually impossible.
Dentists have been filling cavities with amalgam-an alloy that combines liquid mercury with a powder blend of silver, tin and/or copper-for over two centuries. A finished filling contains no free mercury, which is why a person would need over 250 fillings to experience even the slightest toxicity.
“Anti-amalgam activists say mercury is soaked into metal powder, like water into a sponge, and can come back out of the fillings, but that’s not at all true,” said Dr. Rod Mackert, a dental professor at the Medical College of Georgia and long-time researcher-and wearer-of metal fillings. “It’s mystifying that people persist in saying there is cause for concern with amalgam fillings when there’s no evidence that they cause adverse health effects.”
While there’s no scientifically-supported reason to replace amalgam fillings, you may find composite resin a more aesthetically pleasing option. They are more expensive and less enduring than traditional metal fillings, but their white finish is virtually undetectable.
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