“Silver” fillings—also known as amalgam fillings—date back to the 1840s, when dentists discovered they could use a paste of silver and mercury to fill cavities caused by tooth decay. Despite having more mercury in them than silver, they became known as “silver” fillings, simply because silver sounded classier than mercury or amalgam.
For nearly 150 years, these fillings served as a durable and inexpensive option for restoring the tooth, however, their safety eventually became a topic of controversy among dental professionals and patients alike.
In the 1980s, the development of new technology made it possible for dentists to use white composite materials to fill back teeth and bond front teeth. They were safer, more natural-looking, and mercury-free—an excellent alternative to amalgams. And while many dentists were satisfied to continue using silver, most of the profession embraced the new technology and mastered it, thus becoming “mercury-free” dentists.
What Makes a Dentist “Mercury-Free?”
Advantages of Mercury-Free Fillings
- They pose no risk of toxicity or pollution
- They have a low potential for sensitivity to hot and cold
- They bond to the enamel, restoring the tooth’s original strength
- They provide a more attractive, aesthetically-pleasing solution
- They require less removal of the tooth structure, especially with new cavities