Are Amalgam (Metal Fillings) Safe?

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There has been a lot of publicity regarding the health effects of amalgam restorations (fillings), with people concerned about the mercury that comprises part of these metal fillings. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Dental Federation (FDI) have jointly confirmed the safety of amalgam for dental treatment. Unfortunately, the internet is littered with misleading and sometimes completely inaccurate information, so it is understandably difficult to sift fact from fiction.
Amalgam fillings may be the best viable long lasting option in certain cases, particularly where “white” composite resin fillings are not recommended. However, amalgam restorations are often replaced with white fillings in cosmetic areas.
The amount of mercury that leaks from an amalgam filling in a year is equivalent to what may be contained in a single piece of deep sea fish e.g. tuna.
Replacement of amalgam restorations purely for cosmetic or safety concerns should be carefully considered. If you are considering removing your amalgam fillings for health reasons, the highest levels of mercury from amalgam are released when an amalgam filling is being drilled out!
Another consideration is each time a filling is electively replaced, despite the best efforts of even the most experienced clinicians, the new restoration will be larger in size, further weakening the tooth. Over the long period of a tooth’s life, a filling may have to be replaced multiple times. Weakened teeth often develop fractures, which may necessitate the placement of a crown (and in some cases a root canal treatment and a crown).
For people concerned about mercury toxicity and requesting removing of their amalgam fillings for health reasons, our protocol where possible, is to place a rubber dam and use high speed excavation in an attempt to make sure as little amalgam as possible is in your mouth.
Both amalgam and composite resin fillings have their own advantages, disadvantages and indications. If you need to have a filling placed your Medland Dentist will talk with you about the materials available and their advantages and disadvantages for you and your tooth prior to you making a decision. If you are considering removal of your amalgam fillings, it is a good idea to book a consult appointment with one of our Medland Dentists to further discuss your individual situation.