Are silver fillings bad?

My parents have always been adamant about not putting silver fillings in my teeth. For this reason I’ve always had white fillings. But white fillings don’t last that long. I now have to get all my white fillings replaced and I’m wondering if I should go ahead with the silver or stick to white.

So what are the facts? Is silver bad in any way? uncomfortable? advantages/disadvantages?

The major reason people think silver-mercury amalgam fillings are bad is because of the mercury, and the common myths about the harmfulness of mercury.

Mercury, in its native state, is basically harmless. Mercury in an alloy, which is what’s in amalgam fillings, is even more harmless, because it’s harder to get it out of solution.

Mercury is harmful: 1) as a vapor, or 2) as a compound (especially the oxide (cinnabar) or the chloride. Mercuric chloride is one of the most poisonous substances known). But native mercury will pass through you with few ill effects.

The only problem with mercury amalgam fillings comes in heating them. You will note that if your dentist has to dig out a mercury amalgam filling with a drill, the area will be continuously cooled with water. Heating the alloy would allow mercury vapor to escape.

I’ve never heard of anyone being harmed by mercury/silver amalgam fillings. Ever. They’re consistently the strongest (until we finally have synthetic dentin and enamel about twenty years from now).

Get the mercury fillings.

LL

Silver-mercury amalgam fillings can react with other metal in your mouth and create an electric current which can cause a perceived “shock” to the nerves in your teeth. Foil wrapped baked potato with bits of foil in the potato, “ouch!”

Where appearance is not an issue, go with the silver-mercury amalgam.

So THAT’s why it hurt to chew a Klondike wrapper when I was a kid…

So just don’t chew it.

Having to get all your fillings replaced? egad. That sounds like reason enough to get silver fillings that last longer. :eek:

As said, the concern is the mercury. I’ll agree with LL42 about mercury being tough to get out of the filling…but I’m not so sure about the statement that mercury in its native state being basically harmless.

Here’s the MSDS on mercury (this is worst case, of course, and not meant to cause alarm)

You’ll see that the ingestion route states that the uptake is low, but there is potentially some hazard.

The main concern is chronic (long-term) exposure (such as having it sit in your mouth in a filling for the rest of your life).

In the past, I’ve checked around on the web about this and basically found that the risk of mercury in fillings in not really known except to say that millions of people get these fillings without any apparent ill-effects. So, on that evidence, you may feel better about getting the silver fillings.

I hate Material Safety Data Sheets.

Care to guess what the following substance is?

Route Of Entry - Inhalation: YES
Route Of Entry - Skin: YES
Route Of Entry - Ingestion: YES
Health Haz Acute And Chronic: ACUTE: MAY BE HARMFUL BY INHALATION,
INGESTION, OR SKIN ABSORPTION. CAUSES EYE OR SKIN IRRITATION. MATERIAL IS
IRRITATING TO MUCOUS MEMBRANES AND UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT.
Carcinogenicity - NTP: NO
Carcinogenicity - IARC: NO
Carcinogenicity - OSHA: NO
Explanation Carcinogenicity: NONE SPECIFIED BY MANUFACTURER.
Signs/Symptoms Of Overexp: NONE SPECIFIED BY MANUFACTURER.
Med Cond Aggravated By Exp: NONE SPECIFIED BY MANUFACTURER.
Emergency/First Aid Proc: EYES: IMMEDIATELY FLUSH WITH COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF
WATER FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES. SKIN: IMMEDIATELY WASH WITH SOAP AND COPIOUS
AMOUNTS OF WATER. INHAL: REMOVE TO FRESH AIR. IF NOT BREATHING, GIVE
ARTIFICIAL RESPIRATION. IF BREATHING IS DIFFICULT, GIVE OXYGEN. CALL MD.
INGEST: CALL MD IMMEDIATELY (FP N).

This hazardous, irritating material for which, according to the MSDS, you should “Call MD immediately” if ingested, is…

Sodium chloride. Also known as table salt.

sigh

As to mercury… yes, mercury can be absorbed in small quantity via ingestion. Yes, chronic absorption of this type will cause problems. No, there’s not enough mercury even in a mouthful of fillings to cause these problems, I’m pretty sure, and if even one ten-thousandth of the mercury in fillings dissolved into the GI tract over the course of a lifetime, I’d be highly surprised.

So: don’t break a mercury thermometer and drink it, but don’t worry about fillings.

(And, if you want to follow OSHA regulations, call your doctor the next time you put salt on your food :D)

Cecil Adams on Are you being poisoned by your silver tooth fillings?

Well, I have read several reports that all seem to say “yes it leaches, no we don’t know if it hurts or not”. While I have all silver on the right side of my mouth, I ma getting all ceramic/composite/whatever white fillings on the left side.

I have noticed two benefits of the non-silver fillings:

  1. MUCH less sensitivity to hot or cold than the silver.
  2. They look like…teeth. It’s very hard for me to spot them, even when I know which teeth they are in.

The drawbacks, or course, are:

  1. Higher cost.
  2. Reported need for more frequent replacement, although dentists nowadays claim that problem has been fixed…I’ll see, I guess.

Heh… thanks for the link, Manny. I find that dissenting letter extremely interesting… mainly for the fact that heavy metal poisoning is pretty much always a chronic condition. Once you have the heavy metal in your system, it’s there for good. You don’t suddenly become non-senile upon removal of the fillings; ask your average person who was lead-poisoned as a child.

But Cecil’s right, the world is apparently full of blithering idiots.

LL

Oops - excuse the brief trip to hillbilly land. It should read “I am getting”… :slight_smile:

[QUOTE]
*Originally posted by Anthracite *
**

Well, maybe you… nope, it’s just too easy.

Anyway, thanks for all the input. I’m still more/less undecided but I may end up being guilted into white fillings. My mom has repeatedly reminded me how much my parents spent getting all my silver removed for white when I was young. Sometimes it’s better just to keep the peace and bite the bullet (provided the bullet doesn’t contain any Mercury).

Boy, I needed to see this.

I have a friend who lives off conspiracy theories, and this is one of the ones he thew at me: “Dentists continue to use mercury in fillings even though they’ve know for years how dangerous it is.”

I should have just asked my uncle. He’s a dentist. Instead I just ignored the guy.

“threw at me” not “thew at me”

I hate the fact that you can’t edit your posts on this forum. For those of us who can’t type, it sure is a annoying.

duh. Did it again.

For the record, jamesglewisf, I didn’t notice your typo until after you corrected it. I’ve seen cases where even after a person posted a correction, I still couldn’t find the original mistake. Don’t sweat it, or if you’re really anal about it, proofread and preview.