Amalgam fillings are a type of dental filling that is used to treat tooth decay and cavities. These fillings are composed of a blend of different metals, including silver, tin, copper, and mercury. The ratio of each metal may differ, but generally, amalgam fillings consist of approximately 50% elemental mercury, 35% silver, and small amounts of tin, copper, and other metals.
The usage of amalgam as a dental filling material can be traced back to the early 1800s. During this time, dentists were looking for a filling material that would be robust, easy to use, and economical. Amalgam fulfilled these requirements, and its usage became widespread over the following decades.
Amalgam fillings are known for their strength and durability, making them a reliable option for patients who need to restore decayed or damaged teeth. They can withstand the pressure of chewing and last for many years. Additionally, amalgam fillings are typically less expensive than other filling materials, making them an accessible option for many patients.
Despite their durability and affordability, amalgam fillings have some downsides. They have a silver appearance that is noticeable when talking or smiling, making them less aesthetically pleasing than other filling options. Moreover, amalgam fillings contain mercury, which may pose a risk to health in high doses. While many dental organizations maintain that the amount of mercury in amalgam fillings is safe, some patients may still feel uneasy about having this material in their mouths.
The UK has implemented a ban on the use of dental amalgam fillings for certain groups, including children under 15 years old, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers, unless it is deemed clinically necessary.
This ban is due to environmental concerns, as dental amalgam fillings contain mercury, which can be harmful to human health and the environment.
The ban has been introduced in line with EU regulations, and a complete phase-out of dental amalgam for all patients is planned by 2030.
The ban on amalgam fillings has significantly impacted dental practices in the UK. Dental professionals have had to adapt to new materials and techniques for filling teeth, such as composite resin, glass ionomer, and ceramics.
These materials may be costlier, but they are deemed safer for patients and the environment. The transition to these alternative materials has required additional training and investment in new equipment, which has increased the cost of dental care.
Patients who wish to avoid dental amalgam fillings have several alternative options to choose from. These are some of the most commonly used types of dental fillings:
Composite fillings are composed of a mixture of resin and filler material designed to mimic the colour and texture of natural teeth. They are commonly used for restoring decayed or damaged teeth in areas that require moderate pressure during chewing, such as small-to-medium-sized cavities.
Due to their ability to match the natural colour of the tooth, composite fillings are a popular option for individuals seeking aesthetically acceptable dental restorations.
Ceramic fillings are a type of tooth-coloured filling material that is highly durable and resistant to staining and wear. They are made of porcelain and are more expensive than composite fillings but can last up to 15 years or longer.
Ceramic fillings are an attractive option for those who want a natural-looking restoration that blends in with the surrounding teeth.
They are also more resistant to wear and tear than composite fillings, making them a good choice for areas of the mouth that are subject to a lot of pressure from chewing.
Glass ionomer fillings are a type of dental filling that consists of a mixture of glass and acrylic powders. They are typically used for small cavities and in areas around the gum line. One of their advantages is that they release fluoride, which can help to prevent future decay. This makes them a popular choice for children who may be at a higher risk for dental caries.
Gold fillings are considered the most long-lasting type of filling, despite being the most expensive. They are composed of a blend of metals, such as gold and copper, and are well-tolerated by the body. In fact, they can last up to two decades or even longer, making them an investment in long-term dental health.
As a dental practice, Spa Dental Care Hockley fully supports the UK’s ban on amalgam fillings for certain groups of patients, including children under 15 years old, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers. We believe that this ban is an important step towards reducing the environmental impact of dental care and improving patient safety.
At Spa Dental Care Hockley, we have already made the transition away from using amalgam fillings and now offer a range of alternative materials for our patients. We primarily use composite resin fillings, which are tooth-coloured, durable, and blend in with the natural colour of the teeth. In addition, we offer ceramic fillings, glass ionomer fillings, and gold fillings, depending on the specific needs and preferences of our patients.
Although the transition away from amalgam fillings has required some investment in new equipment and training, we believe that the long-term benefits are worth it. By using alternative materials, we are reducing the environmental impact of our practice and providing our patients with safer, more aesthetically pleasing options for dental fillings.
Ensuring the health and well-being of our patients are of utmost importance at Spa Dental Care Hockley. We continuously keep ourselves informed about the latest advancements in dental care and strive to use the most reliable and secure materials and techniques available. Our commitment to using alternative materials, which are both environmentally friendly and safe, enables us to provide our patients with exceptional dental care that is both sustainable and effective.