The ‘Problem’ with Amalgam?

The ‘Problem’ with Amalgam?

Why many of our Ipswich patients are turning away from traditional dental fillings.

For many years now, teeth that have suffered from decay have been filled using a material known as amalgam. This material is actually made up of a number of metals, including silver, tin and, more controversially, mercury. Whilst it is the mercury in amalgam that causes concern for some patients, the overall material is increasingly becoming a thing of the past as dentists start to slowly move away from using it.

Although amalgam has excellent dental properties and is still one of the strongest materials around and can last for a long time, it does have a number of potential pitfalls which we highlight below:

Mercury poisoning?

Perhaps the most challenging amalgam ‘problem’ is the issue of mercury. The use of this chemical element, also known as ‘quicksilver’ has become increasingly controversial over the years. Mercury, in its liquid form is very toxic and concerns have been raised about the safety of its use. To go into this debate here would run to several pages but, as a summary, the current advice from professional dental bodies is that mercury is safe to use in the amalgam form, but many local dentists are reducing its use over time; using alternatives, which we will discuss later, to replace it. Whilst there are differing opinions, we do stress that official medical bodies say that the use of amalgam in fillings is safe.

Unsightly teeth

Even for those patients who are unconcerned by any potential ‘risks’, the fact is that amalgam fillings are very dark in colour and, when a patient laughs or yawns, the dark filings (which are often in the rear teeth) are revealed. Because the more visible front teeth tend to have less work to do and are therefore not under such stress, alternatives such as dental bonding can be used, as can tooth coloured fillings which we will discuss later.

Radio signals

Radio signals through amalgam fillings? Really? . Well .. a bit of research seems to indicate that this is somewhat of an urban myth and we have certainly never heard this from any of our Ipswich patients. It seems that Lucille Ball once claimed that radio signals through her dental fillings, led to the capture of Japanese spies!  Whilst we acknowledge some of the other issues surrounding amalgam fillings, this is one we would tend to dismiss!


Thankfully, with advances in dental research, there are now alternative dental fillings available. These can be made to match the current shade of your teeth to make them appear natural. Whilst the strength of these fillings was once an issue for use in rear teeth, this is now no longer the case, and, for those extra large fillings, additional strength can be provided by the use of porcelain inlays or similar techniques.

If you are concerned about the potential health aspects of amalgam fillings, notwithstanding that amlagam is officially safe to use, or would simply prefer to have more attractive teeth, why not arrange a consultation at the Foxhall Dental Practice by calling us on 01473 258396 to arrange a consultation.