Dental amalgam or “silver” fillings is a commonly used dental material for restoring teeth and filling cavities. It is a mixture of mercury and other metals.
Dental amalgam is the most thoroughly researched and tested restorative material. It is durable, easy to use and relatively inexpensive compared to other materials. This makes it a legitimate treatment option for dentists and their patients.
Although some are concerned about amalgam’s mercury content, the World Health Organization, Food and Drug Administration, American Dental Association and other major U.S. and international scientific and health bodies reinforce the appropriate use of dental amalgam as a safe and effective restorative material.’
Dentists across Wisconsin work hard every day to ensure a healthy, safe environment inside and outside the dental office.
The Wisconsin Dental Association encourages member dentists to use and dispose of all supplies and products in an environmentally-friendly fashion.
Dental amalgam combines elemental mercury and other metals like silver, copper and tin to form a very safe, stable alloy inside the mouth. Recycling amalgam waste captures this alloy and prevents its release into wastewater systems where it could interact with chemicals and other environmental factors that could create the release of methyl mercury which, in turn, could contaminate the fish we consume.
Scientific evidence shows dental sources to be a very small – less than 1 percent – contributor of the mercury released into the environment.
The WDA endorses Sharps Compliance, a medical waste disposal company that provides member dentists with a green alternative to disposal rather than adding to landfills. In addition, state regulations require dental offices to have operating and safety procedures for X-rays and conduct film processor quality control testing to ensure the highest level of safety to both dental patients and staff.
Dental waste separators installed in waste lines in dental offices prevents amalgam waste from ever leaving the dental office and entering community waste water lines. Installing these separators in a dental office is voluntary, but the WDA strongly encourages their use to help dentists be good environmental stewards.
Since 1999, the WDA has worked with the state’s Department of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin – Extension and local sewerage districts to help dentists employ Best Management Practices for all types of dental waste recycling and disposal.
Dentistry’s common-sense approach leads dentists and their dental teams to take simple, effective steps to protect our state’s natural resources.
A cavity is a hole in the tooth caused by dental decay. Decay starts when the protective enamel that covers the tooth breaks down.
Unlike other bodily injuries, a cavity won’t heal itself without outside intervention.
Dental decay can be stopped when detected early and with proper placement of dental restorations by a licensed dentist. Regardless of the material used, fillings are not naturally occurring bodily substances and, therefore, are considered foreign to your body. Any dental restorative material can cause an allergic reaction, particularly in those with heightened sensitivity.
If you need a tooth filled, talk to your dentist about the pros and cons of the various materials available to you to help you make an informed choice. Key factors to consider are:
Dental restorations are important to maintaining your oral health and preventing further (and more costly) problems. Any disadvantages of having a foreign substance placed in your mouth are surely outweighed by the advantages of halting decay at the earliest possible time.
Patients, in consultation with their dentists, are encouraged to choose the most appropriate care for their individual needs.