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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Are ‘Silver’ Fillings Making Us Sick?: Dr. Navid Zamani describes some potential concerns with amalgam fillings

Apr 30, 2013 06:23PM ● By Navid Zamani, DMD

In the 1800s, amalgam became the dental restorative material of choice, due to its low cost, ease of application, strength and durability. Dental amalgam is an alloy of mercury and other metals, with a common formula of around 50 percent mercury, 22 to 32 percent Silver, 14 percent tin, 8 percent copper and other trace metals. Amalgam is a very durable and strong material for dental fillings, but with age it undergoes contraction and expansion, and could ultimately lead to stress on the tooth itself. These pressures caused by the amalgam can lead to fractures or breakage of a portion of the tooth structure, requiring more extensive care to the tooth.

There are health concerns about the mercury in the amalgam, and environment concerns about pollution and global toxicity, as well. Mercury has been shown in studies to be a neurotoxin that could lead to autoimmune disorders, memory loss, mood swings and tremors. The mercury in the amalgam fillings can also be released as a vapor during chewing and grinding, and even normal tooth brushing. This can pose a significant risk to individuals that have numerous mercury fillings.

Several European countries have banned all dental amalgam fillings, an act that has created controversy in the United States. A movement in several U.S. dental schools seeks to stop the use of dental amalgam fillings. Just over a year ago, Costa Mesa, California, became the first U.S. city to ban the use of dental amalgams, yet the American Dental Association maintains that silver fillings are safe and should remain an option for patients as a filling material of choice.

Patients with dental amalgam fillings should consult with their dentist about how to best evaluate their condition. Generally, if the fillings are very old or have decay, leaking margins or corrosion, it is best to have them removed and replaced.

Alternative restorations that can be used instead of dental amalgam include composite resins or porcelain fillings, both of which are tooth-colored. These restorations use adhesive techniques to bond the tooth together, which gives it more support and is more esthetically pleasing.

Navid Zamani, DMD, is the owner of Gilbert Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, located at 3611 E. Baseline Rd., Ste. 104, in Gilbert. He offers a complimentary exam and X-rays to new patients. Contact him at 480-497-2000 or

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