Mercury in Dental Amalgam Fillings

Why am I being warned about potential exposure to mercury in dental amalgam fillings?

  • Mercury and mercury compounds are on the Proposition 65 list because they can cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.
  • Exposure to mercury during pregnancy can affect brain development and cause learning and behavior problems for the child.
  • Proposition 65 requires businesses to determine if they must provide a warning about exposures to listed chemicals.

What is dental amalgam?

Dental amalgam, commonly known as “silver filling,” is a dental filling material that consists of about one-half mercury (a metal) and about one-half other metals, including silver.

How does exposure to mercury from dental amalgam occur?

  • Mercury exposure occurs by breathing low levels of mercury vapors and swallowing during:
    • Placement or removal of dental amalgam fillings.
    • Teeth grinding by people who have dental amalgam fillings.
    • Chewing gum and eating by people who have dental amalgam fillings
  • During pregnancy, mercury can pass to the baby when:
    • The mother has amalgam fillings put in or removed.
    • The mother has amalgam fillings and grinds her teeth.

How can I reduce my exposure to mercury in dental amalgam?

  • Have regular check-ups and talk to your dentist about good oral hygiene practices.
  • If you have dental amalgam fillings that are in good condition, avoid removal of them.
  • If you need a tooth filling, talk to your dentist about the characteristics, including strength and longevity, of other restorative materials, such as resin composite, porcelain, and gold alloys.
  • If you have amalgam fillings and grind your teeth, talk to your dentist about possible remedies (such as a mouth guard). 

What does the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say about mercury in dental amalgam?

The FDA:

  • Considers dental amalgam fillings generally safe for adults and children age 6 and above.
  • Recommends that pregnant women and parents with children under age 6 discuss their concerns with their dentist.

For more information:

Mercury in Dental Amalgam Fact Sheets and Resources:

Dental Oral Health:

General Mercury Information:

Proposition 65:

  • California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)
    Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)
Posted March 2016

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