There is a great deal of uncertainty about the magnitude of health risks posed by mercury amalgam fillings, also called “silver fillings.” Although the world is trying to get an international agreement to phase them out along with other forms of mercury–a treaty the US is technically a signatory to–there are many people who say that the fillings are safe and effective and represent a cost-effective alternative for low-income people with tooth decay.

But in 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) apparently came forward to propose a change in its policy toward mercury amalgam fillings, proposing a partial ban on the fillings, but this ban was never authorized by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the overarching department that controls the FDA.


A Moderate Approach to Safety

According to documents that have been released, in January 2012, the FDA drafted a proposed policy toward mercury amalgam fillings that essential represented a partial ban. Mercury amalgam fillings, the policy said, should not be used in certain high-risk groups:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children under the age of 6
  • People with kidney dysfunction
  • People with allergies to mercury or other sensitivities

This policy represents a compromise between mercury amalgam supporters and opponents. By identifying high-risk groups and protecting them, the policy would reduce potential impact mercury amalgam may have on, for example, autism.

However, the policy was never approved, though the exact reason is unclear. Some say that a cost-benefit analysis showed the policy was not a good decision. Others say that it was a political decision: with a close election in 2012, the Obama administration didn’t want to seem too strongly pro-regulation, especially regulations that could be cast as hurting low-income Americans. Pro-mercury forces say it’s simply that there wasn’t enough evidence to support the policy.

For Fillings, Some Things Are Certain

There may still be debate about the safety of mercury amalgam fillings, but what there is no debate about is that metal amalgam fillings are very visible and highly unattractive. It’s also no debate what they increasingly represent. As an old-fashioned solution to tooth decay, your fillings immediately mark you as old. And as they are more and more loudly represented as the low-cost option, they conspicuously mark you as being a lower-class individual. And because your fillings advertise your tooth decay, they can make you look unhealthy.

Whether your mercury amalgam fillings are the result of a halcyon youth or markers of a past you would rather forget, we can help you replace them with a more attractive alternative. For a consultation about replacing your mercury amalgam fillings in Savannah, please call (912) 234-8282 for an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.