Environmental concerns about dental amalgam

26 July 2018

From 1 July 2018, UK law states that dental amalgam should not be used in the treatment of milk teeth, in children under 15 years-old, and in pregnant or breastfeeding women, except where deemed strictly necessary by a dentist based on the specific medical needs of the patient.

The law has been passed on the basis of environmental concerns about mercury pollution, and does not reflect any evidence-based concerns about adverse effects of amalgam on human health.

What is dental amalgam?

Dental amalgam is the silver coloured material that is commonly used to fill teeth that have decay. Amalgam is a mixture of mercury and other metals in a stable form that make a strong, long-lasting filling.

Dental amalgam has been used to restore teeth for more than 150 years, and to this day there has been no evidence that it causes any harm to the health of the patient, including children and pregnant and breastfeeding women.

What are the alternatives?

The best way to avoid the need for amalgam fillings is to prevent tooth decay in the first place. Toothbrushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and following healthy eating advice can help to prevent tooth decay. Other treatments such as fluoride varnish and sealants can be used to prevent or stop decay in the early stages. If you need a filling there are alternative materials available that your dentist can use, and they will discuss which option suitable for you.

What about the amalgam fillings I already have?

If you already have amalgam fillings, there is no evidence to suggest that these are harmful to you or your baby or infant’s health. Unless your amalgam fillings are broken or there is further decay that requires urgent treatment, your dentist does not need to remove or replace them unless you would like them to. For further information, please speak to your dentist or our patient co-ordinator on 01452 727 665.

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