We have taken extensive training in England and the United States to be able to provide beautiful, long-lasting fillings, crowns and inlays made of porcelain and other tooth-coloured materials. Dental amalgam is a mixture of silver, other metals and mercury. It has been cited as a significant cause of mercury pollution in rivers and oceans. Many countries have already limited or banned its use.
The disposal of waste mercury products (including dental filling materials) is costly, time-consuming and complex. The material has to be placed in sealed containers and removed by licensed hazardous waste contractors. It cannot simply be thrown away. This even applies to extracted teeth which contain mercury fillings.
Mercury is poisonous and some patients are concerned about health risks associated with its use. While there is no conclusive evidence that mercury released by fillings is harmful to most individuals it has been shown that it accumulates in the body and can be found in the brain and major organs.
Mercury crosses the placenta to the unborn baby. In England, it is recommended not to place mercury fillings in pregnant women or to allow pregnant dental staff to work with the material. Patients concerned about the toxicity of mercury can request special precautions be taken when the removal of old amalgam fillings becomes necessary.
Amalgam is un-aesthetic. The black appearance of silver fillings spoils the smile and makes teeth look grey and discoloured. Nowadays more and more people care about the way they look and will not accept this drawback.
Amalgam does not chemically bond to teeth like the more modern materials do. There is always a microscopic gap between the filling and tooth which allows saliva and bacteria to leak in from the mouth, leading to the eventual breakdown of the material. Some amalgams expand as they set, causing teeth to crack or break.
The wedge-shaped form of amalgam fillings can also lead to this. Because there is no chemical bond, amalgam does nothing to strengthen teeth. In addition, metal conducts heat, sometimes causing filled teeth to become sensitive after treatment.
These are the reasons we do not promote mercury amalgam at this practice. It must be said most dentists are still comfortable with the use of the material. If placed carefully amalgam fillings can last a very long time and are often cheaper than the more modern materials. It’s all a question of choice!