Amalgam To Be Phased Out?

Tooth coloured fillings already available at our Wickford practice.

As the European parliament has voted to phase out the use of mercury in dental fillings by 2030, we thought that we would take a look at what this means for patients.

Whilst amalgam fillings are still currently available for those who want them, and for those who have fillings as an NHS patient, alternative fillings are already available at The Cygnet Dental Practice.

It should be noted that, although mercury, is a toxic substance, the current guidelines are that it is perfectly safe to use as a component of an amalgam filling.

Why amalgam?

There is a good reason that amalgam is used for dental fillings, and has been for a very long time. It is a pliable material that can be shaped to fit the cavity, yet is extremely strong, being made from a combination of metals. The strength and longevity that it provides means that is is especially useful in larger fillings at the rear of the mouth. These teeth are responsible for most of our chewing and therefore a strong filling is essential.

Some people do claim to be sensitive to the mercury used, although various claims of receiving radio signals through them have been debunked!

Tooth coloured dental fillings

Although amalgam fillings offer a strong solution to restore a damaged tooth, they do have one major disadvantage, and that is the colour. Amalgam fillings are very dark in colour and are therefore very noticeable. Even when used on the rear teeth, they are easily seen when a person laughs. This is one of the main reasons, along with the ‘mercury question’, that patients are gradually moving towards having tooth coloured fillings. These offer an excellent and more aesthetically pleasing alternative to dark amalgam fillings.

Unlike amalgam, these fillings contain no metals but are made from a mixture of glass particles in a resin base. Because they have excellent bonding properties, fillings require less of the natural tooth to be removed in order to place these. They also harden very quickly, sometimes speeded up by the use of a special light.

Other alternatives

Although tooth coloured fillings have been around for some time; until relatively recently they were deemed to have insufficient strength for use in larger cavities. More recently, improvements have been made to this material which now allows them to be used in larger fillings than before. Where a filling is required for a very large cavity in a rear tooth, our Wickford family dentist may suggest that an inlay or onlay is used instead. These are specially prepared to fit the cavity and are usually made from porcelain. For most fillings though, a tooth coloured filling should offer sufficient strength as well as a natural appearance.

Tooth coloured fillings and other cosmetic dental procedures to give you a beautiful smile are available at the Cygnet Dental Practice in Wickford. If you would like to find out more, please call us on 01268 733078.