Mercury Amalgam Information
What is mercury amalgam?
Mercury amalgam is a material used for amalgam fillings. Moreover, it is is a liquid mercury and metal alloy mixture used for dental fillings that have typically been caused by tooth decay. Typical modern mercury amalgam fillings are made of mercury (50%), silver (~22–32% ), tin (~14%), copper (~8%) and other trace metals.
Mercury amalgam fillings were first documented in the year 659 and first appeared in Europe in 1528. They grew in popularity in the 1800s due to their low cost and durability.
In more recent times however there has been concern over their appearance, pollution to the water systems and also health.
What are the potential dangers of mercury amalgam fillings?
Dentists are now debating the safety of amalgam and patients are becoming more aware of the health problems which can arise due to mercury. Many patients are left confused whether they should remove their old mercury-laden silver fillings in case they are affecting their health or replace them with a more modern form of restorative dentistry.
The UK is not the only country which is facing this problem and dental professionals in the USA and worldwide are debating the safety of mercury amalgam. Recent studies in the USA have shown that 72% of those patients surveyed did not know that silver fillings contain mercury.
Out of those surveyed, 92% of the respondents wanted to know about how mercury could affect their health as they did not know the issues surrounding silver fillings when they were first placed.
For more information on safe amalgam removal, visit our clinics page.
Silver amalgam fillings, mercury toxicity and detox
The term 'silver filling ' is technically incorrect as a ‘silver filling' contains 50% pure mercury and 35% silver with the remainder being made up of copper, tin and zinc. The mercury in amalgam fillings is the same metal that has been banned from thermometers in hospitals, schools and throughout industry because of its toxicity.
Mercury amalgam fillings were originally used about 150 years ago as a cheap alternative to gold inlays - the most common material in use at the time - which was too expensive for the vast majority of people. Mercury amalgam silver fillings were seen as a cheaper alternative for patients. At the time there was concern regarding potential side effects of the mercury with several dental associations banning their use at the time.
Given the proportion and amount of mercury contained within a typical silver filling (750 to 1000 mg) they are more accurately called mercury amalgam fillings.
The dental profession used to believe that once the filling had set the mercury was locked in and safe. We now know and the British Dental association has admitted that this is not true with mercury vapour being released from the filling during the lifetime of the restoration.