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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ask the Dentist

How dangerous are mercury fillings? Is it safer to leave them in or have them replaced?

Suren Mailyan, U.S. Dental Care:

Used by dentists for more than a century, dental amalgam is the most thoroughly researched and tested restorative material among all those in use. It is durable, easy to use, highly resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive in comparison to other materials. For those reasons, it remains a valued treatment option for dentists and their patients.

"Only a very small number of people are allergic to amalgam fillings. Fewer than 100 cases have ever been reported. In these rare instances, mercury may trigger an allergic response. Symptoms of amalgam allergy are very similar to a typical skin allergy.

"While questions have arisen about the safety of dental amalgam relating to its mercury content, the major U.S. and international scientific and health bodies, including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, among others, have been satisfied that dental amalgam is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material.

"Studies have failed to find any link between amalgam restorations and any medical disorder. Amalgam continues to be a safe restorative material for dental patients."

Murat Guchetl, German Medical Center:

There are many studies of the qualities of amalgam as filling material. Not a single one of them talks about the toxic impact of mercury on the body. The reason is that mercury in an amalgam filling is in a combined form, and cannot act as a poison. Amalgam is an old type of filling material -- they are not aesthetic, and cavities tend to form around them since they adhere badly to your teeth."

Stella Tandelova, American Medical Center:

The amount of mercury in amalgam fillings that is absorbed into the body is too small to be a health hazard. If it is installed professionally, there is no reason to replace it. However, in cases of bad-quality installation, when fillings don't have a perfect fit, cavities tend to form around them, and it is better to have them redone."