From 1st July 2018, there are new laws covering some aspects of these fillings.
For many patients, the main problem with the use of amalgam for fillings is its dark colour. Whilst perhaps less of an issue on rear teeth, although these can also show when we laugh or yawn, they can spoil an otherwise attractive smile if used on the front teeth.
For some patients, there are also concerns about the use of mercury in this material, although The General Dental Council has deemed there to be no safety issues when it is used in a solid form, such as in amalgam. Some patients though, prefer to avoid them altogether.
Whilst not covering the role of amalgam generally; from the 1st July 2018 it will be illegal for dentists to use amalgam in children under 15 years old, or in women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding. There are exceptions to this and amalgam can still be used when ‘deemed strictly necessary by a dentist based on the specific medical needs of the patient’. Despite this exception though, the fact is that most problems where an amalgam filling would normally be used can be resolved using white dental fillings, inlays or onlays.
Why the ban?
Despite the concerns about the safety of mercury by some patients, it is specified that this is not the reason, and that, from that point of view, amalgam fillings are still safe. The reason given for the ban is an environmental one, with the aim of reducing mercury levels in the environment.
How will it affect me?
There is a gradual ‘push’ for amalgam fillings to be phased out anyway. This may happen gradually but is certainly good news for any of our Teddington patients who are concerned about the aesthetics of their teeth. Unless you fall into the affected categories, you can still have amalgam fillings if you wish. Increasingly though, patients of the Elmfield House Dental Practice are switching to have white fillings that use no metals in their production. Instead, glass particles and acrylic resins are used, allowing the filling to match the colour of your natural teeth. Where a larger cavity, such as on the rear teeth, needs to be filled, an inlay or onlay is a suitable alternative to amalgam.
Although amalgam is a strong material and has served its purpose well, modern cosmetic fillings are now almost equal in strength and can be used on all but the largest cavities.
If you would like to find out more about having white fillings, or any other aspect of our dental care, you can contact us by calling the Elmfield House Dental Practice on 020 8614 1995.