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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should I do if I have bad breath?
Q: How often should I brush and floss?
Q: Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?
Q: How often should I have a dental exam & cleaning?
Q: How can I tell if I have gungivitis or periodontitis (gum disease)?
Q: Why is it important to use dental floss?
Q: How can cosmetic dentistry help improve the appearance of my smile?
Q: What are porcelain veneers and how can they improve my smile?
Q: What can I do about stained or discolored teeth?

Q: Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?

A: Over the years there has been some concern as to the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings. An amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin and zinc, bound by elemental mercury. Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for more than 100 years. The controversy is due to claims that the exposure to the vapor and minute particles from the mercury can cause a variety of health problems.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), up to 76% of dentists use silver containing mercury to fill teeth. The ADA also states that silver fillings are safe and that studies have failed to find any link between silver containing mercury and any medical disorder.

The general consensus is that amalgam (silver) fillings are safe. Along with the ADA’s position, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, the FDA, and others support the use of silver fillings as safe, durable, and cost effective. The U.S. Public Health Service says that the only reason not to use silver fillings is when a patient has an allergy to any component of this type of filling. The ADA has had fewer than 100 reported incidents of an allergy to components of silver fillings, and this is out of countless millions of silver fillings over the decades.

Although studies indicate that there are no measurable health risks to patients who have silver fillings, we do know that mercury is a toxic material when we are exposed at high, unsafe levels. For instance, we have been warned to limit the consumption of certain types of fish that carry high levels of mercury in them. However, with respect to amalgam fillings, the ADA maintains that when the mercury combines with the other components of the filling, it becomes an inactive substance that is safe.

There are numerous options to silver fillings, including composite (tooth-colored), porcelain, and gold fillings. We encourage you to discuss these options with your dentist so you can determine which is the best option for you.

 
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Timothy A. Ungarean, DMD, FAGD
Creating Beautiful Smiles

Pittsburgh Location

4701 Baptist Rd.
Suite 301
Pittsburgh, PA 15227
(412) 884-1424

Directions Here

West Location

3153 Broadhead Rd.
Suite A.
Aliquippa, PA 15001
(724) 857-1010

Directions Here

 
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Map & Directions Email Dr. Ungarean