You hear so much stuff about metal dental fillings that it makes you wonder what you should and should not believe. There are a lot of myths flying around, which may cause you to avoid having your cavities filled, or cause you to request more costly tooth-colored fillings that are not covered by your dental insurance. The following myths about metal dental fillings have been debunked to clear things up for you.
Metal Fillings Show up as You Pass Through a Metal Detector/Airport Security Will "Bust" You
Actually, metal fillings will not cause you to get stopped in a metal detector. It is not the same kind of metal that the detectors are looking for. To prove this, you need to know that at least 92% of all adults, aged 20 to 64, have had at least one cavity in their lifetime, which means that almost all adults have had at least one metal filling as well. Clearly, the airports and courthouses are not stopping every last person going through the metal detectors to check metal filings! You have to have something else much larger and made of steel, titanium, or other "pure" metal on you before security will stop to wave a wand over you.
Metal Fillings Cause Cancer/Can Poison You
Studies conducted by the FDA concluded that silver amalgam fillings are perfectly safe for everyone ages six and up. That conclusion cannot be reached if there are even a few cases of poisoning or cancer caused by tooth fillings. There is no substantial or substantiated evidence to prove that you can be poisoned by metal fillings or get cancer from these fillings either.
Metal Fillings Contain Mercury
Yes, some metal fillings contain a very minute amount of mercury. However, the dental world is moving away from amalgam that contains trace amounts of mercury just to give patients peace of mind. At any rate, the trace amount of mercury is no more than what is in the soil around you, and you consume more dirt in your lifetime than the trace amount of mercury in your fillings. Additionally, your fillings are sealed so that the trace amount of mercury cannot magically leach out of the solidified amalgam and cause you harm.
Metal Fillings Turn Your Teeth Black
No, metal fillings do not turn your teeth black. If more than half of your tooth has to be restored using metal amalgam, it will show through the healthy walls of your tooth. This is similar to sitting in a white tent and having a flashlight cast your shadow through the outside of the white tent. The light makes parts of the tent appear gray or black because of your shadow and the transparency of the white tent. If you are really concerned about a large cavity and a metal filling making your tooth look dark, spring for the tooth-colored filling on this one.
Bruxism Can Cause Your Metal Fillings to Split Your Teeth
Bruxism is the condition whereby you bite down really hard, clench your teeth, and/or grind them while you sleep. Some people have (falsely) assumed that because a metal filling is very hard, it can split your tooth wide open if you grind hard against that tooth. If anything, a metal filling can hold the tooth together, because metal fillings are extremely strong and durable. In fact, metal fillings are stronger than any other type of filling used by dentists everywhere.
That said, if you grind your teeth, you are already cracking and fracturing your teeth on your own. The metal filling is adhered to several surfaces of your tooth via the cavity that was filled. The metal filling holds those areas of the filled tooth together, even if the tooth does chip or break.
Talk to a professional at a place like Hot Smile Dental for more information.