What About the Safety of Filling Materials?
Patient health and the safety of dental treatments are the primary goals of California's dental professionals and the Dental Board of California. The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide you with information concerning the risks and benefits of all the dental materials used in the restoration (filling) of teeth.
The Dental Board of California is required by law* to make this dental materials fact sheet available to every licensed dentist in the state of California. Your dentist, in turn, must provide this fact sheet to every new patient and all patients of record only once before beginning any dental filling procedure.
As the patient or parent/guardian, you are strongly encouraged to discuss with your dentist the facts presented concerning the filling materials being considered for your particular treatment.
*Business and Professions Code 1648.10-1648.20
Allergic Reactions to Dental Materials
Components in dental fillings may have side effects or cause allergic reactions, just like other materials we may come in contact with in our daily lives. The risks of such reactions are very low for all types of filling materials. Such reactions can be caused by specific components of the filling materials such as mercury, nickel, chromium, and/or beryllium alloys. Usually, an allergy will reveal itself as a skin rash and is easily reversed when the individual is not in contact with the material.
There are no documented cases of allergic reactions to composite resin, glass ionomer, resin ionomer, or porcelain. However, there have been rare allergic responses reported with dental amalgam, porcelain fused to metal, gold alloys, and nickel or cobalt-chrome alloys.
If you suffer from allergies, discuss these potential problems with your dentist before a filling material is chosen.
Toxicity of Dental Materials
Mercury in its elemental form is on the State of California's Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity. Mercury may harm the developing brain of a child or fetus.
Dental amalgam is created by mixing elemental mercury (43-54%) and an alloy powder (46-57%) composed mainly of silver, tin, and copper. This has caused discussion about the risks of mercury in dental amalgam. Such mercury is emitted in minute amounts of vapor. Some concerns have been raised regarding possible toxicity. Scientific research continues on the safety of dental amalgam. According to the centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is scant evidence that the health of the vast majority of people with amalgam is compromised.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other public health organizations have investigated the safety of amalgam used in dental fillings. The conclusion: no valid scientific evidence has shown that amalgams cause harm to patients with dental restorations, except in rare cases of allergy. The World Health Organization reached a similar conclusion stating, "Amalgam restorations are safe and cost effective."
A diversity of opinions exists regarding the safety of dental amalgams. Questions have been raised about its safety in pregnant women, children, and diabetics. However, scientific evidence and research literature in peer-reviewed scientific journals suggest that otherwise healthy women, children, and diabetics are not at an increased risk from dental amalgams in their mouths. The FDA places no restrictions on the use of dental amalgam.
Some composite Resins include Crystalline Silica, which is on the State of California's Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer.
It is always a good idea to discuss any dental treatment thoroughly with your dentist.
Dental Amalgam Fillings
Dental amalgam is a self-hardening mixture of silver-tin-copper alloy powder and liquid mercury and is sometimes referred to as silver fillings because of its color. It is often used as a filling material and replacement for broken teeth.