Is It Safe to Remove Silver Fillings?

I have silver fillings from a long time ago but I've been wanting to get the white fillings instead. One dentist told me that it was safer to keep them because more mercury can be released when removing silver fillings. Is this true?

Doctor Answers 6

Safety to remove silver fillings

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Silver fillings are an amalgam of many metals.  The most controversial one is mercury.  There are some who are concerned that silver fillings release mercury gas and there is potential to cause health hazards over time.  The ADA continues to list mercury containing silver fillings as an approved filling material and reject such notions.  Removing silver fillings does release mercury vapor.   Should one wish to upgrade to more esthetic white fillings and they are concerned about mercury gas release seek out a dentist that uses special protocols including special filters to  limit a patient's exposure to these gasses.

Laurel Dentist

Removing Old Silver Fillings

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Most of the time, recurrent decay is found underneath old silver fillings and is the reason for replacing them.  Removing silver fillings can be done safely by using a high speed suction and a rubber dam to isolate the tooth from the rest of the mouth.  Best, Dr. Elizabeth Jahanian

Elizabeth Jahanian, DDS
Los Angeles Dentist

Remove silver fillings if necessary

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I suggest to remove them only when needed in the case of decay or cracks. For several reasons:

1. Old fillings once removed can cause teeth to become sensitive, possibly needing root canals and crowns

2. We use high speed suction when fillings are removed to capture the debris.

Benjamin S. Fiss, DDS
Chicago Dentist

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Replacing silver fillings

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I only recommend replacing silver fillings if they have decay or are starting to break down. A well done silver filling can often outlast a composite (tooth colored) one. Replacing silver fillings with tooth colored ones can be done safely though, and I wouldn't worry about mercury release.

Paul D. Kantor, DDS
Cleveland Dentist

Removal of amalgam restorations

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Modern esthetic trends completely changed attitude to dental amalgam, even though it is still one of the best restorative materials for posterior teeth. Amalgam according to multiple research has better  marginal adaptation and longevity in comparison to many white composite fillings. If the patient insists on better esthetics and wants to remove silver restoration, mercury exposure during this procedure with high-speed suction and water irrigation is about 100 times less than mercury content in lake or river fish that usually is consumed.

Some mercury dispersed with removal of silver fillings

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Yes, it is true, some mercury does disperse while removing silver fillings. If a patient has a silver filling and it is doing just fine I advise them to leave it and do not replace it.

I do advise to have a silver filling replaced when there is decay, leakage and when the filling and tooth are breaking down. When we remove silver fillings we use a large suction to remove excess material. There are some natural remedies that may be good to take before and after having a silver fillings replaced, such as cilantro and vitamin C.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.