Amalgam Fillings: The Truth About the Metal in Your Mouth

Recently the Dr. Oz show came out with a segment entitled “Are Your Silver Fillings Making You Sick?” Within that segment they discussed the toxicity of amalgam, a.k.a “silver fillings” and the dangers they pose to the public. The safety concern raised by Dr. Oz surrounds one of the components of an amalgam filling: Mercury.

This is an example of an amalgam.

Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin, and at certain levels can cause neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases and mental disorders. In an amalgam filling, mercury, silver, tin, copper and other metals are combined to form a hard, stable substance that fills in an area of tooth where a cavity has been removed. Mercury is used to make the filling more pliable when being fitted to the tooth, and once it is hardened, is a perfect surface to withstand the daily forces of chewing and grinding. Once the mercury is mixed with the other metals and molded to fit the tooth it is hardened and inert, meaning the mercury is no longer active and is therefore considered safe.

The concerns the Dr. Oz show raised were concerning vapor issuing from the mercury within amalgam fillings. They were attempting to say that the amount of vapor that leaks from an amalgam filling due to everyday forces is unsafe. Dr. Oz used a model of teeth with amalgam fillings and simulated brushing those amalgams to measure how much vapor is released. They concluded that the amount of vapor produced was 3%-68% of workplace air quality standards that are allowable by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). At this level, side effects to the mercury would be noted.

We use appropriate dental technology.Fortunately, in dentistry we rely on scientific fact and reproducible results to come to our own conclusions on ethics and practices regarding the safety of our patients. Soon after the March 28, 2013 airing of the Dr. Oz show, the American Dental Association (ADA) contacted their producers to provide credible scientific experts to back up their on-air “study”, and have received no response.

There is no conclusive study that has found a direct link between amalgam fillings and adverse side effects, except in the rare form of an allergy. Unfortunately the Dr. Oz show failed in their on-air demonstration to create true “in-mouth” conditions, which would yield significantly different results. In a real mouth, saliva creates a water/protein barrier that significantly reduces the amount of vapor created. The amount of vapor actually released is measured in the billionths of an ounce. An ADA researcher has noted that it would take at least 300 amalgam fillings before a person would notice any adverse side effects.

As for the concerns that amalgam fillings have caused neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases and chronic illnesses, there hasComposite fillings can match your tooth color. been no reputable link between them. The Dr. Oz segment ignored that major U.S. and international scientific organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the ADA all agree that dental amalgam is a safe and effective treatment for patients. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Mutiple Sclerosis Society have all also supported the safety of amalgam fillings.

The bottom line is this: Don’t let sensational TV determine your health status. See a dentist, get informed and make decisions based on sound medical fact. Like any other dental problem, if it’s broke, fix it! Amalgam fillings, just like tooth-colored (composite resin) fillings, break down and need replacing, so get them done while the work is minimal and cost-effective. If you still have concerns, talk with your dentist and he/she will be happy to explain the pros and cons of keeping vs. replacing your fillings. Your dentist is here to make you comfortable with every dental decision you make.

Paige is our hygienist in our Westminster dental office.


– P. Tscherpel, RDH

If you would like to schedule an hygiene appointment with Paige Tscherpel, please visit our Westminster Dental Health page.




  1. I wonder if amalgams are still used by dentists these days

  2. Ken Johnson says

    I am a dental patient with numerous mercury fillings that I want to have replaced. They have broken my teeth due to expansion and contraction of the enamel with changes in temperature over time. I am highly offended by the position of the ADA to literally give patients no alternatives to mercury implants. They have caused grievous damage to my teeth. I have the right as a human being to informed consent about what the holier-than-thou dental crowd decides is in my “best” interest as to what they determine to be “safe” levels of mercury toxicity. This amounts to a conspiracy similar to Mafia protection money and extortion. The patients have suffered untold harm by this inquisitorial atmosphere surrounding the dental “profession”. The ADA is trying desperately to keep the cover up in place on this issue. Please know that God will judge ultimately.

    Ken Johnson

    • Depending on the size and placement of the existing amalgam restorations, you may be a good candidate, if you wish, for resin composite (tooth colored) fillings, or possibly porcelain crowns.

      As you please, contact one of our dental offices located in Denver, Westminster, Boulder or Longmont for a dental exam where we can describe the options that are available and follow up with treatment. We want everyone to achieve their dental health goals and will work with you to do so.

      Dental Health Colorado