Make A Move Towards Mercury Free Dentistry

Make A Move Towards Mercury Free Dentistry

White dental fillings offer an excellent substitute in Streatham.

Over the years there have been many stories about the ‘risks’ of using mercury in the production of amalgam fillings.

It is true that this is a potentially toxic substance and it may seem a strange thing to use when making a filling that is to be put into the mouth.

However, studies have shown mercury compounds to be safe when used in this way and the General Dental Council has deemed that it is safe to use for this purpose, at least for the majority of people.

The reality is that we all breathe in mercury from the environment and it is present in the air, the soil and in the water too. These are in such small quantities as to cause no harm to human health and we shouldn’t be concerned about it. Although initially thought not to, it has been shown that mercury does slowly escape from amalgam fillings over time. As with that from nature though, this is at levels that should be of no concern.

Why ditch amalgam fillings then?

At your Confidental dentist in Streatham we do come across a number of patients who either refuse to believe that amalgam is safe, or would simply prefer to be on the safe side and use an alternative instead. These patients opt instead for our natural looking, white cosmetic fillings. The use of mercury is not the only reason that people switch to this method. Although amalgam offers an excellent level of strength, there is no getting away from the fact that it is a very visible dark filling material, and even in the back teeth can be seen when you laugh or yawn. It is understandable then that patients definitely do not want them in their front teeth.

Finally, although amalgam fillings are safe, there is a move to gradually phase out the use of amalgam fillings. This is not from direct safety issues but from concerns about the increased levels of mercury in the environment. It is believed that at least some of this rise can be attributed to the use of mercury based dental fillings.

Alternative fillings

Amalgam has been used as a filling material for many years because it is strong and stands up to a lot of wear and tear. There was a time when white alternative fillings were deemed to be unsuitable for most fillings as they were too weak; but this in longer the case though, due to advances in their production.  They are now suitable for use in all but the largest fillings. In these cases, a tooth coloured inlay or onlay may sometimes be used instead.

What are white fillings?

Well, first of all, these fillings contain no mercury at all. Instead they use a combination of glass particles, resin and a setting agent. They can also be produced in a colour to match that of your natural tooth, allowing the fillings to entirely blend in. They have a number of advantages over amalgam fillings, the most obvious one of these being that they are very discreet and natural looking, but there are other benefits though which are equally important.

To place an amalgam filling, a cavity has to be shaped so that the tooth can be filled as amalgam doesn’t bond especially well with the tooth enamel. This can require the removal of more of the tooth than just simply the part that is decayed. Without doing this, the filling could become loose and fall out. White fillings perform better for this purpose in that the filling material bonds itself to the enamel of the tooth very well and therefore less of the natural tooth needs to be removed. They will also set very quickly too, usually meaning that you can use the tooth for eating much sooner. Do follow advice from our Streatham dentist though as cases will vary.

Another issue that amalgam fillings have is that, over time, they shrink very slightly in size. This can cause them to come away from the tooth leaving tiny gaps between the filling and the natural tooth. Whilst this can’t be seen by the naked eye, it is still large enough to trap tiny food particles and bacteria in the gap. As this can’t be effectively cleaned, it is likely that you will eventually suffer further tooth decay when this happens.

How much do they cost?

Unlike amalgam fillings which are available on the NHS, white dental fillings do have to be paid for privately. At the time of writing, white fillings cost £75 compared with the current cost of a little over £60 for amalgam fillings on the NHS. We believe that this is a small price difference to pay for teeth that look natural following restoration, compared to one with a dark coloured filling.

If you would like to find out more about our white composite fillings, or to arrange an appointment to see one of the Confidental Clinic dentists, please call our Streatham dental surgery on 020 8674 2052.