Amalgam is a metal alloy and mercury material that has been used for more than a hundred years to fill decayed teeth. Amalgam fillings are sometimes called silver fillings because they initially appear silver in the mouth. They were popular because amalgam is affordable and long-lasting, and this filling material is placed directly into the cavity, repairing the tooth in a single visit
Amalgam fillings are highly visible and can create dark areas in the mouth. They expand and contract when in contact with hot and cold foods, and this continual flexing can eventually create microfractures in teeth, weakening the overall structure. When preparing teeth for amalgam fillings, dentists need to remove the damaged portion of the tooth plus a little of the healthy tooth structure to shape the filling correctly.
People are increasingly concerned about the mercury content of amalgam fillings. When you chew on an amalgam filling, a tiny amount of mercury is released, but shouldn’t be harmful to most people. The Australian Dental Association continues to support the use of these fillings but suggests minimizing use in children, people with kidney disease, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. In European countries, amalgam fillings are also not recommended for children and pregnant and breastfeeding women, and the intention is to phase out amalgam fillings on environmental grounds by 2030.
Nowadays, many dental practices, including City Dental, are amalgam-free as there are far better alternatives to fill and repair teeth. We use the most modern and long-lasting materials that can repair teeth virtually invisibly and which provide better protection for teeth. These modern materials work more harmoniously with natural teeth in a biomimetic way, meaning they mimic nature. These materials don’t flex when in contact with hot and cold and bond more firmly to the tooth compared with amalgam. When preparing teeth for amalgam-free fillings, we only need to remove the damaged portion of the tooth, preserving all healthy tooth structure.
If you still have some older amalgam fillings, we can discuss when to remove them as they will need replacing eventually. We take extensive precautions when removing amalgam fillings, using a powerful suction system fitted with air filtration to collect the amalgam and to minimize the risks to our patients and staff. The amalgam is disposed of correctly ensuring it will not harm our beautiful environment.