Dental amalgam (silver fillings) – what you need to know

Dental amalgam silver fillings what you need to know 2

The Minamata Convention on mercury is a global treaty, signed by the UK and over one hundred countries in October 2013 with the intention of protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. The European Union approved the Convention in adopting Regulation (EU) 2017/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council on 17th May 2017. So, from 1st July 2018, amalgam fillings have been banned for children under the age of 15 years and for pregnant or nursing women (Article 10, 2).

This global agreement was designed to limit the use of mercury from all sources, including LED light bulbs, fluorescent tubes, vaccines, fertilisers, thermometers, batteries. Dental amalgam fillings have been included in this agreement, as, of course, dental amalgam contains mercury.

Research has shown that dental amalgam is safe to patients. It is strong and long-lasting.  Dental amalgam has been used extensively in the developed world for over 125 years. The decision to restrict the use of dental amalgam in the groups of patients mentioned above is the start of the reduction in overall mercury use and, eventually it may be phased out completely.  The reduction in amalgam use is solely based on environmental grounds and there is no scientific evidence showing that it is harmful to patients. Your dentist will be able to show you the research stating this. You may ask: I have lots of amalgam fillings in my teeth – might that be harmful? The answer therefore is NO, and, the amalgam fillings which are functioning well in your teeth do not need to be removed.

However, if and when one or more of your amalgam fillings need to be replaced, you may wish to have a discussion with your dentist regarding whether to have another amalgam filling, or, a new tooth-coloured resin composite filling placed instead. There is increasing research which shows that these are long-lasting, and, of course, they look better: the downside is that they take longer to place, so will be more expensive. More research is required in order to make these tooth-coloured fillings as fast and easy for your dentist to place as amalgam fillings. However, in certain clinical situations, dental amalgam may still be the filling material of choice.

Lastly, if you are pregnant, your dentist will try to postpone filling teeth, whenever possible. You should, however, rest assured that all dentists are legally obliged to work in the best interests of all of their patients and ensure that treatments are not harmful to you in any way.


Article courtesy of Professor Trevor Burke, DDS, MSc, MDS, MGDS, FDS RCS (Edin), FDS RCS (Eng.), FFGDP(UK), FADM.

Trevor Burke graduated from Queens University in Belfast. He worked in general dental practice in Manchester from 1974 to 1996, whilst also working in the Unit of Restorative Dentistry at the University of Manchester.

He has been Professor of Primary Dental Care at the University of Birmingham and Honorary Consultant in Restorative Dentistry there since 2000.

He has authored or co-authored 290 papers in peer-reviewed journals and been awarded over 80 research grants.

His main research interests include properties and applications of tooth-colored restorative materials, and clinical evaluation of the performance of materials in general dental practice. In 1993 he established the PREP (Product Research and Evaluation by Practitioners) Panel, a group of dentists who carry out research in their practices. Trevor co-ordinates this group, which has now completed over 70 evaluations of materials and techniques, with the group having grown to 30 members across the UK.

He is also an examiner for the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, was Chair of the Board of Board of Dental Protection until November 2014 and is the Editorial Director of Dental Update.

Trevor’s time at the University is mainly spent being Director of the Masters course in Advanced General Dental Practice, this having been established 14 years ago as a campus-based (“live”) course, and which is now a Distance course for dentists anywhere in the UK and the world.

For more information on Amalgam fillings please speak to us at Mark Tangri Dental on 0333 1234 999


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