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Dental treatments: Amalgam fillings

The filling of a tooth due to decay or damage is one of the most common dental procedures undertaken - with around 8 million fillings placed last year in the UK alone. A filling allows us to quickly and safely restore a tooth, so that you are able to use it in comfort.

Amalgam (metal alloy) fillings have been used for over 150 years and are the most commonly placed type of filling. Combining a mixture of mercury and other metals including silver, tin and copper they are extremely durable. When well looked after they can last for many years.

Are amalgam fillings safe?

The mercury used in amalgam fillings is often a cause of worry. However, many scientific studies have dismissed any link between amalgam and health issues. This is because when it is combined with other metals, the chemical structure of mercury changes making it harmless. Many millions of people have amalgam fillings for years and suffer no ill effects.

Is amalgam suitable for everyone?

  • Occasionally it is possible to have an allergy to amalgam - in this case, a suitable alternative should be used
  • Pregnant women should avoid amalgam fillings
  • Composite (tooth coloured) and gold fillings are also available as an alternative option – but both are generally more expensive (and won’t be available on the NHS for those who qualify for free dental treatment)

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