Before tooth-coloured white fillings became available, metal amalgam fillings were the standard option that was used to repair decayed and damaged teeth. These fillings have been used for over 150 years and use a combination of metals including copper, mercury, tin, zinc and even occasionally silver, to create a strong and long-lasting repair.
Metal fillings are still the most common form of treatment provided by the NHS but many more people are choosing to upgrade their dental fillings to newer white fillings to avoid the use of potentially toxic materials such as mercury. Amalgam fillings are perfectly safe but for a small number of patients the mercury in the fillings can cause an allergic reaction. In this blog, we’ll look at the options and alternatives for metal fillings.
Is it safe to remove amalgam fillings?
There are various reasons why people choose to replace their metal amalgam fillings with a different material. This may be:
- for a more natural-looking smile
- to avoid allergic reactions to mercury
- to replace loose, worn or damaged fillings that expose the underlying tooth to bacteria
How are metal fillings removed?
Your dentist will explain the possible complications of amalgam removal so you can decide if it’s the right choice for you. To protect you and the dental staff, strict safety protocols will be followed during the procedure, such as:
- Placing a rubber dam in your mouth to prevent debris from being swallowed
- Using tungsten carbide dental instruments that generate less heat, reducing the amount of mercury vapour released and shortening the treatment time
- Using high-strength evacuation to prevent mercury vapour from being inhaled or circulated
Once the filling has been removed, the hazardous mercury waste will be disposed of in ways that prevent contamination with people or the environment.
What are the alternatives to metal fillings?
If you want to avoid metal fillings, or you’re thinking about having your existing amalgam fillings replaced, your dentist will explain the options they offer at their clinic.
All types of dental restorations have associated clinical risks that your dentist will make sure you’re aware of. These risks can be minimised when you choose a qualified and experienced dentist.
The most common alternatives to mercury fillings are:
- White fillings
- Dental crowns
If you are interested in finding out more about replacing your amalgam fillings then speak with the team at Smile Pad today. Our dentists will be able to advise on treatment costs and what financial options are available for the different treatment options.