Dental Amalgam

Dental Amalgam

The use of silver fillings, or more correctly dental amalgam fillings, is being phased down. The move is for environmental reasons first and foremost.

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What is dental amalgam?

Dental amalgam is the material that silver-coloured fillings are made from. It contains several metals, including mercury.

How will this change my dental treatment?

This new regulation may affect the type of dental treatment you receive in future. From July 1, 2018, dental amalgam fillings will no longer be used in deciduous (baby) teeth, children under 15, or pregnant or breastfeeding women, unless deemed strictly necessary by a dentist on the grounds of specific medical need. Dental amalgam restorations will continue to be a treatment option for all other patients.


Are dental amalgam fillings safe?

Yes. They are safe, strong and long lasting. They have been in use for over 150 years and their safety and reliability have been well researched. The new regulations on the use of amalgam are being brought in primarily for environmental reasons. The decision to restrict the use of dental amalgam in some situations is a step in reducing the amount of mercury in the environment. While the use of amalgam fillings may eventually stop completely, further research and testing of other filling materials is needed before amalgam can be replaced.

What happens if my dentist says I should have a dental amalgam filling but I don’t agree?

Situations may arise where your dentist recommends dental amalgam yet you do not wish it to be used. On some of those occasions your dentist may be unhappy using a different material and may discuss the option of referring you to another dentist who may be able to either complete the treatment using different materials or provide different types of treatment. 

What if I want to get rid of the dental amalgam fillings I already have?

All this may lead you to wonder about the safety of the dental amalgam fillings you already have. Many of those will have been in your mouth for a long time and will be working very well. Their removal is to be avoided because it usually leads to the creation of a larger cavity. Discuss this with your dentist, who will be able to explain what may be in the best interests of your dental health. At present, dental amalgam still remains an excellent choice of filling material.

I would prefer to avoid the need for fillings. What can I do?

Tooth decay is preventable. To keep it away, you should reduce the number of times each day you eat or drink sugar-containing food or drink. Drink tap water, which has teeth-protecting fluoride in it. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Spit out the excess paste when you have finished cleaning. Do not rinse the toothpaste off your teeth. This way the fluoride in the toothpaste will continue to work for longer and with greater effect. Your dentist can talk to you about other preventive measures like fissure sealants and fluoride varnish.

Should I continue to receive dental amalgam fillings?

In certain circumstances a dental amalgam filling may be the best option to achieve a safe and satisfactory outcome. If so, your dentist will discuss the reason why dental amalgam may be a good choice. They will explain the advantages and disadvantages of various filling materials, their use in your teeth and the different costs. While your dentist understands different filling materials, and how well they might work in your mouth, the choice is always yours. An agreed treatment can then go ahead with your consent

Why is the use of dental amalgam fillings being phased down?

The Minamata Convention brought about a global agreement to reduce environmental contamination caused by mercury. Placing or removing amalgam fillings can cause mercury waste to be released into the environment. A new EU regulation is intended to reduce the number of dental amalgam fillings being placed by dentists.