Amalgam fillings, also known as metal or silver fillings, are a blend of copper, silver, tin, and mercury. This material has been used in dentistry for decades. The controversy surrounding amalgam fillings centers on how much mercury is released from the fillings and how much the body absorbs.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institute of Health (NIH) state that the current data is insufficient to support a link between mercury release from amalgam fillings and the various complaints that have been attributed to the restorative material.
Are Amalgam Fillings Safe?
The current position of the American Dental Association (ADA) and the British Dental Association (BDA) is that dental amalgam is a safe restorative material. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend that you have your amalgam fillings removed or replaced if your fillings are in good condition and there is no decay. The main concern today is the environmental impact of dental amalgam due to water contamination from the removal of amalgam fillings. A 2012 study by the European Commission reports that there is currently no scientific consensus on the direct health effects of dental amalgam (except allergies), and the focus is on environmental impact. Therefore, the aim is to manage dental amalgam waste adequately.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has a phase-down approach on the use of mercury in dentistry, where nations may pace this according to domestic needs. This is in accordance with the treaty agreed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2013.
At Smilepoint Dental Centre, we no longer use mercury or amalgam fillings in our restorations. We would recommend replacing existing amalgam fillings only if they are defective. For example, if the filling has decay around it or if it is cracked.