Dental Amalgam – The Latest Controversy

Recently, Brian Williams, on the NBC Evening News , reported on an FDA concern about silver amalgam fillings used in dentistry, and the possible health effects surrounding the mercury that makes up half of the filling material.

It’s an interesting subject, and as many of my patients already know, we haven’t used silver amalgam since 1980. My reasons for not using it haven’t really changed since then.

Here is what I thought then and why we don’t use it:

    • It’s UGLY. Not one patient has ever asked me for one of those ugly black fillings in all of these years – not even one. It doesn’t fit my practice style or what most of my patients actually want in their mouths.


  • It’s an issue of FEAR and CONFUSION. The fact is that we really don’t know how much mercury that you might get from a silver filling, or if that mercury is enough to trigger any disease process. But there are hundreds of thousands of people suffering from all sorts of chronic diseases for which modern medicine really has no answer.


There have been some in medicine and dentistry who have suggested that the mercury in amalgam might be responsible or contributory to Multiple Sclerosis. Since those folks are usually desperate, there is the concern that they might be the victims of a scam, if dentists scare them into getting their fillings removed. The science is still unclear, and I, personally, have not seen enough evidence to make me think that people with MS are going to be cured if we take their amalgam fillings out.

We do take them out all the time, but it is mostly done for esthetic or dental reasons. I am a little bit shy of being convinced that health will return when the silver is gone.

In the meantime, don’t panic. We certainly aren’t going to contribute to the mercury burden by placing more of these fillings. When the time is right, we will be glad to remove them. When the silver fillings are removed we have to take special precautions for reducing air and water contamination as well as the patient’s exposure to that mercury vapor.