What’s the difference between mercury free and mercury fillings?

Amalgam fillings revolutionized the treatment of tooth decay and cavities hundreds of years ago. 

Before fillings came to be, dental patients were at risk of losing teeth, yikes! And amalgam fillings consisting of mercury and a mixture of tin, copper, silver, or zinc were discovered to halt the spread of bacteria in the tooth. 

This approach saved so many people from losing teeth! However, modern research in dentistry has led to better, safer, more conservative techniques to treat cavities—like mercury-free bonded dentistry.

What Are Mercury Fillings?

These types of amalgam fillings are often referred to as “silver fillings” because they look silver – but this term doesn’t explain what they are correctly!

Dental amalgam (or silver filling) is a mixture of metals, consisting of liquid (elemental) mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper. These fillings can contain up to 50% mercury. And mercury is a highly toxic element. In fact, there is no known safe level of mercury exposure.

Research shows that silver dental fillings expose you to the harmful effects of mercury. Some patients are extremely sensitive to mercury, and having amalgam fillings impact a patients’ health if they are sensitive to this element.

Why are we seeing mercury fillings commonly breaking teeth?

To place an amalgam filling, the dentist also has to remove a lot of tooth structure to get the filling to stay put…it’s held in by “undercuts” or little ledges cut out of your tooth.  It is a metal, and it acts like a wedge inside your tooth.  Over time, little cracks form in your tooth, all around the filling.  When a tooth cracks all the way, it normally will crack toward the nerve (hello root canal!) or down below the gums, and sometimes can’t be fixed!  

When we look at these fillings over time, many of them need to be replaced with crowns and more extensive dental work.

What Is Mercury Free?

“Mercury Free” refers to dentists who do not put silver amalgam fillings in their patients’ teeth. Great alternatives to amalgam fillings are composite resin, glass ionomer, porcelain, zirconia, and gold.

Fox Point Dental is a mercury free dental practice! At Fox Point, we use all of the treatment options listed above.  Each one is good for different reasons and in different parts of the mouth!  We choose to be “mercury-free” because it is a safe and reliable option for your dental care.

There are many benefits and reasons to choose a dentist that offers mercury-free dentistry. Here are a few:

  • It’s a safe solution – using composite fillings doesn’t pose any health risks.
  • You get beautiful results – composite fillings and porcelain crowns match the natural look and feel of your real teeth! You would never know they were even there.
  • It’s a reliable option – composite fillings and porcelain crowns are strong and reliable. They’ll last you for years to come!
  • They can “regenerate” teeth! – glass ionomer can actually be used to heal your tooth!

At Fox Point Dental in Lakewood, our team focuses on whole health, functional dentistry. Our goal is to help our patients smile confidently, breathe clearer, and live healthier lives! If holistic dental health and mercury-free dentistry are important to you, then you’re in the right place! 

If you have questions about existing mercury fillings or anything at all, Dr. Turner would be happy to answer your questions! Give us a call at 303.732.8909 or book an appointment here.

To learn more about our general dentistry services in Lakewood, CO, visit this page here. To learn more about Lakewood, CO pediatric-specific dentistry services, visit this page.

Want to learn more about dental fillings in Lakewood, CO? Check out this page here.

About the Author

Dr. Elizabeth Turner is a whole-health, family dentist in Lakewood, CO who provides general, restorative, and cosmetic dental care. She focuses on the mouth-body connection and helps her patients smile confidently, breathe clearer, and live healthier lives. 

Recent Posts

What does a cavity look like

What Does a Cavity Look Like When It First Starts?

Read More
How to Maintain Your Bright Smile

How to Maintain Your Bright Smile After Teeth Whitening: Dos and Don’ts

Read More

Are you ready to smile more, breathe freely, and live better?