For the past several years, there has been growing concern among the public regarding the safety of amalgam fillings. Dr. Oz famously had a television segment regarding the safety of the fillings. While we disagree with Dr. Oz on many dental issues, let’s address the issue of silver fillings to help shine some light on the topic.

What is an amalgam filling?

Amalgam fillings are a combination of metal powders (mostly silver, copper, and tin) and liquid mercury. The combination is mixed to form a paste that can be molded to form a filling. In a few minutes, the mixture hardens and becomes very durable. The major concern with these fillings is if mercury is released from the filling and then negatively affects your health.

The Facts About Mercury

Mercury is a highly toxic element, and of course should be avoided in high quantities. But we humans frequently consume other toxic things (ie alcohol, tobacco) and think nothing of it. But what does of mercury does it take to make it truly toxic? Amalgam fillings have been around for over a hundred years, and to this day scientific studies cannot link the presence of silver fillings to any adverse health effects, nor can they prove that removal of fillings will prevent or cure any illness.

Tooth Colored

Can Mercury Leak From Amalgam Fillings?

Yes, it is undeniably true that mercury vapors are released from silver fillings. However, the consensus is that the amount released is well below the FDA accepted daily intake.

Should I Replace My Amalgam Fillings?

Given the current research findings, we do not advise patients to replace silver fillings that are free of any problems or defects. If they present with signs of decay, chipping, ditching, or cracking, then they can and should be replaced. However, when patients have a desire to change their fillings for health concerns and have made an informed decision to do so, we are willing to help in any way we can.

It’s also important to mention that any time we perform treatment on a tooth, it puts stress on that tooth, which could result in sensitivity or even a full-on toothache. Some amalgam fillings are also quite large, and may not be advisable to replace with a filling, but rather a crown. However, the vast majority of the time, replacing fillings does not result in any problems.

Bad Amalgams

Why Do Dentists Use Amalgam At All?

Historically, it was basically the only choice dentists had if they wanted a durable and long-lasting filling. Tooth-colored fillings have since evolved to become a suitable alternative. Amalgam fillings still do have benefits in certain scenarios however. Because of the need for a perfectly moisture-free environment when placing tooth-colored fillings, sometimes amalgam is the better choice. The amalgam does not need perfect moisture control, so can be used in difficult places like a cavity below the gum tissue around a tooth. Another advantage is the metals are inherently anti-bacterial, and thus can be beneficial in patients with high decay risk and bad oral hygiene habits.

Indication for Amalgams

These teeth present a perfect scenario for amalgam use. The gumline tooth cavities are very difficult to keep dry enough to bond in tooth colored fillings.

Tooth Colored Fillings Offer Many Advantages Including:

  • Very cosmetic – blends in naturally and comes in many different shades to help match any tooth
  • Smooth, bonded margins – less plaque accumulation
  • Conservative – less tooth structure must be removed to make space for the filling
  • Reinforces the remaining tooth – because the filling is bonded to the tooth, it reinforces the remaining tooth to help prevent cracks and fractures


Our doctors at East Peoria Dental Group are highly trained in placing natural long-lasting tooth-colored fillings. If you have any questions regarding silver fillings, feel free to give us a call at (309) 699-5521.