The staff at Danville Family Dentistry has heard many concerns about dental health issues over the years, but many Hendricks County residents seem uneasy about the safety of mercury contained in amalgam fillings. They worry that the mercury released from their silver fillings can adversely affect their health. So we want to address your questions.

What is mercury? 

Mercury is a shiny, silver-white metal that occurs naturally in the environment. Mercury can exist as a liquid or as a gas when heated, or it can be combined with other materials. People can be exposed to mercury through the air, soil, drinking water or food, such as fish. 

Why is mercury used in amalgam?

Mercury is combined with silver, copper, tin and other trace metals to create amalgam fillings. Mercury helps make these combined materials soft and pliable, so they can be pressed into a tooth. Mercury also helps the mixture harden quickly and can withstand the forces used in biting and chewing.

Can mercury leak from amalgam fillings?

Yes, mercury vapor is released from amalgam fillings. But the FDA has reviewed the scientific data about the low levels of mercury vapor associated with dental amalgam fillings, and it considers amalgam fillings to be safe for adults and children ages 6 and above.
However, developing fetuses and children under 6 years old may be more sensitive to the toxic effects of mercury vapor. Therefore, pregnant women and parents with children under 6 should talk with Dr. Jon Erickson about alternative filling materials. Also, some Hendricks County residents may have an allergy or sensitivity to mercury. Consequently, they should not get amalgam fillings.

Should I replace my dental amalgam fillings?

If your silver fillings are in good condition and show no signs of decay, you don’t need to replace them, since the removal process may expose you to unnecessary mercury vapor. But if Dr. Erickson finds your amalgam fillings are showing signs of wear, like chipping, cracking or eroding margins, then you may need to have your fillings replaced.
If you have any questions about your amalgam fillings, don’t hesitate to talk to Dr. Erickson. Contact our Hendricks County office to schedule an appointment, so he can properly assess the condition of your silver fillings and address your concerns.