Amalgam, or silver colored fillings, contain mercury; which has been a point of contention and lead to many controversial debates. While large quantities of elemental mercury are certainly bad for you, the amount in fillings is not. As with many things in life, we must weight the "pros" vs. the "cons." Amalgam has been one of the longest used filling materials of all time with great clinical success. And for all those decades there has been no solid evidence of mercury poisoning from amalgam fillings.
Mercury in Fillings
This is largely due to the fact that the mercury is amalgamated (mixed) with the other components to form a solid and stable chemical bond that renders the mercury inert. At this point, no traceable amount of mercury is able to chemically interact with your body. So not only has amalgam proven to be safe over the years, but I (Dr. Nelson) also have amalgam fillings in my own teeth! Not only that, but the American Dental Association supports it's use (click here for information for dentists and here for information for patients).
That being said there are two times where there is a minor risk for mercury exposure: as the filling is being placed and hardening (finishing the reaction that sets the filling up) and when these fillings need to be removed (small amounts of vapor). Fortunately, these are easily avoided by the use of a rubber dam. A rubber dam allows for isolation of the teeth from the rest of the mouth and makes it easy to clear away any excess amalgam during placement or removal.
Dental Cleanings in Missoula
But that still doesn't answer the question! The answer is yes, we offer composite (tooth colored) and gold (also called "inlays" instead of "fillings") fillings that have no mercury in them. I believe that amalgam and composite both have their indications in different situations, and I love having these different "tools" in my metaphorical toolbox to help me provide the best treatment for my patients. So don't hesitate to ask me about which option is best for you.