Why is Mercury Used in Dental Fillings?

Makhoul Dentistry Serving Mission Viejo & Laguna Niguel, CA


Tooth colored fillings in Mission Viejo and Laguna NiguelMercury, also known as quicksilver, is a chemical element most commonly extracted from the cinnabar rock (ore). Used in items as diverse as thermometers, float valves in toilets and water tanks, and fluorescent lights, mercury can also be found in traditional amalgam dental fillings.

Metal fillings are comprised, in part, of powdered alloy such as silver, copper, and tin. The unique chemical properties of mercury make it ideal for binding these metals to create a durable and solid filling. By weight, mercury comprises about 50% of amalgam dental fillings.

The type of mercury used in dental fillings is elemental, just one of several forms in which this chemical element can occur. When elemental mercury is agitated or eroded, it releases mercury vapor, which can be absorbed through the lungs and begin to accumulate in organs and tissue. Studies conducted on patients with amalgam fillings have found this bioaccumulation of mercury in tissue surrounding the kidney and brain.

At high levels, the bioaccumulation of mercury can result in significant health problems including damage to the digestive, immune, and nervous systems of the human body. Children, in particular, may experience neurological damage from over-exposure to mercury vapor.

According to the FDA, “The weight of credible scientific evidence…does not establish an association between dental amalgam use and adverse health effects in the general population.” These findings have been echoed by the American Dental Association, though both organizations suggest pregnant women and children under the age of six avoid metal fillings due to the potential for harm to developing brains.

Tooth-Colored Fillings

Tooth-colored fillings are made from materials that are known to be nontoxic such as porcelain, ceramics, and composite resins. Not only are these materials safer, they are more reliable and much less noticeable than metal alternatives. Because they can be bonded to the surface of teeth, tooth-colored fillings are better able to prevent additional decay and reduce risks of infection. These fillings are also shaded to blend perfectly into your smile, making them less obtrusive and more attractive than mercury-laden dental restorations.

Makhoul Dentistry is a mercury-free dental practice because safer and more attractive alternatives to this chemical element are readily available. Classified as a “Class II” medical device by the FDA, mercury is known to pose “more risk” than restorations made of composite resins, porcelain, and ceramics. While scientific evidence on the dangers of mercury in dental fillings is under constant review by the FDA and ADA, we find even the potential for risk unacceptable for our patients. If you have questions about our stance on mercury-free dentistry, we would be happy to discuss it in greater detail during your next visit to our office.

To learn more about tooth colored fillings in Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, and surrounding areas of California, please call the Mission Viejo office of Dr. E.M. Makhoul at 949-596-0296 today.