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 over amalgam fillings centers on how much mercury the fillings release 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 an association between mercury release from amalgams and the various complaints that have been attributed to the restorative material”.
The current ADA (American Dental Association) and BDA (British Dental Association) position that it is a safe restorative material. The FDA (USA) 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 removing amalgam fillings. The European Commission in 2012 study 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, hence the aim is to manage dental amalgam waste adequately.
The 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 by the treaty agreed by United Nations Environmental Programme in 2013.
At Smilepoint Dental Centre, we no longer use mercury or amalgam fillings in our restorations. For existing amalgam fillings, we would recommend that we replace them only if it is defective. For example, if the filling has decay around the filling or if it is cracked.