Dental amalgam fillings are safe cost effective and lasting. The component is used as a durable restoration material. The material has been researched in depth over decades of clinical use. The material has not been found to be linked with any adverse health effects. The material has actually been used safely for over 150 years. The material is composed of a mixture of metals, these are mercury, silver, tin and copper. The inclusion of mercury has raised some level of concern. the best practice recommendations for implementation and disposal of amalgam include proper waste bins and separators, adequate cleaning and inspection and usage of commercial waste services. The amalgam can be disposed of of recycled.
Various studies and research programs have reviewed the use of amalgam fillings, in particular the presence of mercury. Conclusions were that there is insufficient evidence to support a link, although the use of amalgam is not recommended for pregnant women and female dentists who may be pregnant. However any dental intervention, regardless of materials used should be kept as low as possible for a pregnant patient.
Further research also found that current data is insufficient to support an association, and noted that complaints were broad and not specific. Additionally patients with the amalgam related concerns did not have elevated urinary mercury or greater hypersensitivity to the substance when being compared to controls. Research studies include the FDA Literature Review and Life Sciences Research Office.
Meanwhile a new EU guideline will mean a reduction of amalgam fillings in Europe. The guideline is a directive and restricts the use of this type of filling in children junior teeth, for those aged under 15. This directive was issued in July 2018 and is related to any safety concerns.
Amalgam fillings are also known as silver fillings. Over recent decades people have preferred to choose white fillings over silver for cosmetic reasons and to enhance their smile. You can find out more about options from your dental surgeon. Some patients who previously had silver fillings have had these removed and replaced with tooth coloured fillings for cosmetic reasons and aesthetics. For this reason silver fillings are used less often now than in the past. Although depending on which tooth needs treatment amalgam may still be the best option. For example for teeth which undergo a lot of pressure and wear from chewing as silver fillings are stronger so would be more durable in this instance.
The reason mercury is used is because it makes the components mouldable and hardens fast. Research and experiments have also shown that the level of mercury people are exposed to from their fillings is less that the level most people are exposed to in the environment or in the food and drink they consume. Other alternatives include indium which helps retain the mercury, and also high copper variations which contain less mercury.
If your fillings are in good condition and there is no decay around the filling, then there is no need to replace your fillings. You should maintain a proper care routine at home and attend your regular checkup and cleanings appointments to ensure the best possible results for your dental health and your smile.