The Debate over Silver Amalgam Fillings

For years, experts have heatedly discussed the use of silver amalgam dental fillings. Somewhat misleadingly named, silver amalgam contains far more mercury than it does silver, and mercury has been linked to a number of serious health concerns. The issue is far from settled, and the debate will most likely continue to rage for years. Fortunately, Dr. Shawn Hofkes offers mercury-free white fillings at his Cerritos, CA practice. Whether or not silver amalgam actually does pose significant health risks, tooth-colored composite fillings offer a number of cosmetic advantages. Why not err on the side of caution and choose fillings that will enhance your smile – and possibly protect your health?

Mercury Concerns

When a dentist first places an amalgam filling, it does not pose any immediate danger to the patient. Any mercury in the material is contained within the tooth. However, over the years, the mercury may begin to leak out. Then it enters the blood stream and is carried to all parts of the body. For many health care experts, this is extremely alarming. Mercury has been linked to high cholesterol and several chronic diseases. In particular, scientists warn that mercury can raise a patient’s risk for Alzheimer’s and various neurological conditions. The element hinders selenium, an important antioxidant that protects the brain from harmful chemicals.

The Other Side of the Debate

Many scientists argue that the amount of mercury contained in dental fillings is negligible. They say that the average person encounters more mercury in the environment than they would ever encounter from dental work. Nevertheless, several countries, including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Germany, have already banned the use of silver amalgam. American groups are now pressuring our government to do the same. Recently, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology sued the FDA over the use of silver amalgam, stating that the government should ban the material or at least place far more restrictions on its use.

Why White Fillings Are a Great Choice Anyway

This debate is an intriguing one, especially since there are such well-informed parties on both sides of the issue. Nevertheless, even if it turns out that amalgam fillings are perfectly safe, there is no doubt that more and more dental patients will be turning to tooth-colored fillings in the coming years. Made of dental composite, these fillings can be custom-matched to the color of a patient’s smile. Unlike metal fillings, they will not begin to show through after several years, and patients can enjoy a beautiful, white smile for decades to come. In addition, dental composite actually bonds with the structure of the tooth, lending greater strength and stability to the outer structure. Potential mercury dangers aside, tooth-colored composite resin may slowly replace silver amalgam as the filling material of choice for dentists and patients alike.

About Shawn Hofkes, DDS

Dr. Shawn Hofkes received his dental training at some of the finest institutions in the area. He offers a full array of oral surgery, restorative treatment, and cosmetic care, including white fillings, crowns, and porcelain veneers. To learn more about our treatment options or to schedule your consultation, call our office at 562-584-4082.