Mercury makes up 50% of a silver filling. There is silver in a silver filling but only about 35%. The mercury that is present in filling does release mercury vapor when it’s brushed, chewed on or heated up by hot food and drink. Mercury filling particles that go into our waste lines are filtered out by a special trap that we installed into the line. We did this because the EPA has determined that amalgam/mercury fillings are harmful to the environment and should not mix with our sewer water.
We offer a number of mercury free options to our patients. The most popular is a BPA free composite resin. Composite or resin fillings are done directly just like a a silver filling and have been shown to last about as long ( even longer with good technique). They are white so they blend in with the surrounding tooth color and are barely noticeable. They are bonded to the tooth structure and have a similar expansion/contraction rate to teeth. The Mercury in silver feelings causes excessive expansion and contraction often leading to fractured teeth. We also occasionally recommend a glass ionomer because it can be kinder to the tooth’s pulp and works better at or below the gum line. The other popular option for patients who want to be metal free is porcelain. Porcelain is a very strong option and is the most attractive. Porcelain restorations can not be made directly in the mouth so they do require a bit more precision work either with our in office CAD/CAM equipment or from a dental lab.
Gold is still the gold standard but has it’s obvious challenges in terms of aesthetics and it isn’t metal free.