On topic with Dr. Dill: Are silver fillings safe?

Amalgam fillings are one of the oldest and most common ways to fill a cavity. They’re sometimes called “silver fillings” because of their color, but amalgam fillings are actually made of mercury, silver, copper and tin. Liquid mercury is used to bind the other metal particles together into a durable, long-lasting filling.


Facts about fillings

Fillings have been around for thousands of years.
Amalgam fillings became prominent in the 1800s.
Tens of millions of fillings are placed each year. 

Putting something that contains mercury in your mouth sounds scary, but extensive research shows amalgam fillings are safe for most people. This has been verified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and American Dental Association.

The FDA doesn’t recommend removing existing amalgam fillings, unless medically necessary.


Amalgam fillings create a very low level of exposure to mercury that could affect some groups, according to recent guidelines from the FDA. These include women who are pregnant or nursing; children under 6 years of age; people with impaired kidney function or neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease; and those allergic to mercury or other metals in the amalgam.

A good alternative to amalgam fillings is a composite filling. It’s made from plastic resin and glass and has an off-white color to blend in with your teeth.

Check with your dentist about which type of filling is best for you. You can prevent tooth decay and the need for fillings by brushing twice and flossing once a day, eating a balanced diet, limiting your sugar intake and visiting the dentist regularly.

Meet Joseph Dill, DDS, Delta Dental’s Vice President of Dental Science and Network Strategy. With more than 30 years of experience in the dental field, including eight in private practice and 16 in dental insurance, Dr. Dill provides expert insights and helpful advice to keep you smiling bright.