I often see dentists promoting the removal of amalgam fillings to improve patient's overall health.
Most people over the age of 40 will have (or have had) an amalgam filling in their lifetime and I continue to see amalgam fillings performing beautifully.
There is little evidence to suggest that there is any health benefit to having these amalgam fillings removed unless they are damaged in some way.
Amalgam vs White filling
Amalgam fillings were the standard treatment for filling any teeth for many years.
Amalgam is made of a stable alloy of mercury, silver, tin, copper and other metals.
It is common to find amalgam fillings in the molar (back) teeth of anyone over the age of 40.
When they give you a big smile or laugh you can catch sight of the metal in their teeth, over time that metal has gone from being silvery and shiny to being tarnished and so the colour gets darker over time.
In the mid 1990's other composite and ceramic products became available which allowed teeth to be filled with white material instead of the traditional silver/metallic material.
The white materials gave a much better looking result and so I have not placed an amalgam filling in close to 20 years.
Advantage of White Filling
White fillings that we place today can be made from different materials: COMPOSITE RESIN GLASS IONOMER CERAMIC
These new materials come in a range of colours so your fillings can match your teeth colour so they are practically invisible even if they are on your front teeth.
These materials not only give a better cosmetic result for the patient, but can be stronger than amalgam fillings.
Advantage of Amalgam Filling
Even though we do not use amalgam anymore to fill patients teeth, I see plenty of patients with amalgam fillings that are doing their job and filling the tooth and protecting it from further decay that I am happy to leave in place.
If an amalgam filling needs to be replaced due to being damaged or chipped or if there is decay under the filling then I would replace it with a white filling.
BUT if an amalgam filling is structurally sound and you are not concerned about the look of the filling - LEAVE IT ALONE!
The Australian Dental Association still considers the use of amalgam as a filling material as durable, safe and effective. (Even though most dentists do not use it)
Here is a link to their latest safety policy on Amalgam: https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Professionals/Policies/Dental-Practice/6-18-Safety-of-Dental-Amalgam/ADAPolicies_6-18_SafetyofDentalAmalgam_V1.aspx
Should Amalgam fillings be removed
Removing amalgam fillings is often unnecessary.
A quick google search will show you that mercury will leech out of amalgam fillings.
The amount leaching out is less that we absorb from our daily environment, or from the amount you get eating a piece of fish.
Again if the amalgam filling is damaged in anyway then it should be replaced - not only is it not doing it's job if it is damaged but also this is the time that the metals become unstable and we can ingest them.
So if there is nothing wrong with your amalgam filling just leave it alone, they will probably outlive you.
If you have any further questions regarding Amalgam vs White fillings or any other dental question please give us a call or send us a message, we would love to help.