Amalgam replacement

Should I have my old silver amalgam fillings replaced?

Amalgam has traditionally been used in dentistry to restore back teeth with fillings. From a functional point of view this has proved quite effective and durable. There are now many dental restorative materials that offer similar or improved properties of effectiveness but are hugely more aesthetic as they mimic the natural tooth structure. For this reason the dentists at HDS do not use amalgam to restore teeth.

There is always a better choice whether it’s for cosmetic considerations or because of an improved property such as bonding to the tooth structure. The use of modern materials often means a more limited tooth preparation, conserving the healthy natural tooth structure as well as a beautiful natural-looking restored tooth. The bonding properties allow an extremely effective seal against bacteria and decay.

Amalgam receives a bad press. Patients often enquire about having amalgam fillings removed because of worry over the mercury content. There are plenty of anecdotal stories on the internet about how amalgam causes health problems and over the years people have blamed amalgam on pretty much every medical condition.

You should not worry as this area has been massively researched in proper medical studies over many decades and there is no evidence of any of these associations. HDS dentists do not place amalgam. This is because there are always better materials in modern dentistry. Also, avoiding its use reduces the likelihood of mercury in the environment which is a world-wide aim.

So, should I have my old amalgams removed then?

If you choose to. The reasons should be because you want better or nicer restorations, or the old amalgam restoration is failing. Do not choose to in the hope there will be some wider beneficial effect on your general health.

This is not supported by evidence and would mean dental intervention for the wrong reasons. John Joyce has several amalgam fillings in his mouth placed by his father Don in the 1970s. If they did ever eventually fail (not showing any signs yet after 40-odd years) he would choose an alternative modern material to be placed by one of his dental colleagues here at HDS.

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