In today’s focus on dentistry, let’s talk about silver fillings. Are they harming your health? Let’s talk about it.

Hi, I’m Dr. Paul Henny and let’s spend a few minutes talking about the issue of silver fillings or what are commonly known in the profession of dentistry as amalgam fillings. Amalgam fillings are a combination of silver and other metals with mercury. They are mixed together to form a hard filling material that has been used in dentistry for over a hundred years now.

Over the last 30 years or so there’s been a lot of speculation about whether or not the idea of having these mercury-based amalgam fillings are negatively influencing people’s health. In fact, people have had a lot of their silver fillings or maybe all of their silver fillings removed for that very reason. Is that a valid decision? Is that really influencing people’s health?

Well the research of today says ‘no’. And this has been widely studied from the World Health Organization year after year. Studies have been done as to whether or not silver fillings could have anything to do with MS, fibromyalgia, to Alzheimer’s disease, to all number of neurologic disorders. There have been absolutely no credible studies that support that. I want to repeat that… there are no credible studies that support that silver fillings in people’s mouths cause any negative health implications.

Now, is it possible that they could be in spite of all this research?

Yes, it is possible. The good answer to this problem is that we’ve developed in dentistry materials that we can use instead of silver fillings. So the days are kind of gone where we need to be using silver fillings in most cases anyway. So you can opt out of having these types of fillings in your mouth right now, and most of the time these materials perform pretty well, perhaps just as good as silver fillings have in the past.

The other question is should you have all your silver fillings taken out to preemptively eliminate the possibility that these could be causing problems with your health in the future?

And again I would say there is no research that says that’s a good idea. In fact, some research says the process of removing them exposes you to more negative implications than simply leaving them there. So when a patient comes to me with that question (and it’s not uncommon. I’ll probably hear it every week or two)… I’ll typically tell them, yes we can remove your silver fillings if you want.

But I would look at that from a cosmetic point of view. If you don’t like the way they look or if there’s a reason that they need to be removed like they’re broken or failing or leaking or there’s decay or whatever, then you have a legitimate reason to replace them. And when you replace your silver fillings it’s probably a good idea to use a white tooth-colored filling material in its place. But I rarely recommend, I’ve never recommended, honestly, that a person have all their silver fillings removed because science just doesn’t support that thought right now.

If you’d like to get together with me discuss this further I’d be happy to do this, I do it all the time, call me at 744-1577. I hope to hear from you soon.”