So you need to have a new filling at the dentist. There may be a number of options that are suitable, depending on a number of factors
One factor that is accepted by the British Dental Association (BDA), the American Dental Association, the Department of Health, the Medicines and Healthcare Agency and others…is that mercury based fillings (called “amalgam” fillings) are safe to patients.
This is based on the available evidence from various studies which are summarised here.
There are plenty of reasons to have a different type of filling to amalgam. But safety concerns need not be one of them. Amalgam fillings will not put you at harm (apart from a few exceptions…see later).
Isn’t mercury supposed to be toxic?
Pure mercury is for sure…as in the weird metallic droplets that you may have rolled across the desk in science lessons if you are of a certain age.
But when it is chemically combined with other metals (such as silver, copper or zinc) it is safe.
Why do dentists use it so much?
It works so well for many (but not all) clinical situations and has been used for 150 years. It’s quick and easy to place for both dentist and patient to place, it’s durable and it is cost-effective. And safe.
Is it safe to replace my metal fillings with white ones?
If you think that one of your metal fillings looks unsightly, there may be other options for you e.g. white fillings, porcelain inlays, crowns…you dentist will happy to chat through the pros and cons of each.
Your dentist may also notice something wrong with metal filling that you are not aware of…maybe at your routine six-month checkup. The filling could be leaking, it could be cracked, the tooth may be broken down or the tooth may have an abscess on it. In which case, it may be an opportunity to place a different type of filling or a crown.
According to the British Dental Association, there is no clinical justification for the replacement of perfectly sound amalgam fillings on the grounds of “amalgam toxicity”. The scientific evidence strongly suggests that amalgam is perfectly safe.
Having said that…
What if I am pregnant?
If you are pregnant, it is advised that you avoid placement or replacement of amalgam fillings UNLESS you have a dental emergency e.g. you are in dental pain, in which case it may still be best to go ahead with the filling.
Although this sounds at odds with the “amalgam is safe” line, the reason is that the research we have is not as good as it should be so be certain…so in which case, better be safe than sure.
So make sure you tell your dentist if you think you may be pregnant as it may be decided to delay placing your filling until you have had your baby.
Allergies to amalgam
This is very rare but may be a reason to have amalgam fillings replaced. However it is better to have an opinion a dermatologist to confirm allergy to mercury before proceeding.
About Cleveland Orthodontics
Our specialist-led practice has been established since 1996 and provides brace treatment to people of all ages from across the North East, including Middlesbrough, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, Billingham and Redcar.
We offer NHS orthodontic treatment for children and a range of modern white and “invisible” braces for adults of all ages such as Invisalign. FREE consultations are available… you can either telephone for an appointment on 01642 243 020 or book through our website.