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Dental Amalgams: Why The Fuss?

Written by Dan Abril.

dental amalgam

The younger generation will not be so familiar with that horrid black spot filling damaged teeth but from the 19th century ‘til recent times, dental amalgams – also known as silver fillings - have been the restorative material of choice by dentists.

An alloy of several metals, a silver filling is composed of mercury, silver, tin, copper, and other trace metals. In comparison to other restorative materials, dental amalgams are relatively low cost, stronger, and easier to use thus giving rise to its acceptance. 
Today, its popularity has been on the decline as questions regarding its safety have been raised.

Why Worry?

With a large percentage of mercury in its composition, health and environment groups have expressed their concern regarding the use of dental amalgams. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin and long term exposure to the heavy metal can cause damage to the nervous, digestive, and respiratory systems.  Symptoms appear as tremors, fatigue, and cognitive and motor dysfunction with children - with their developing systems – being more particularly vulnerable to the effects.

Research conducted by the International Academy for Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) have further shown that mercury from dental amalgams can seep into the body through chewing and drinking hot beverages.  

smoking mercury

The World Health Organization (WHO) likewise stated that dental amalgams pose a threat not only to the health of the patients, and dental health professionals but also to the environment.  Accounting for 300 to 400 tonnes of mercury in the market today, mercury utilized by the dental profession eventually end up in the environment as wastes from clinics and as toxic fumes generated by burning mercury-filled teeth via cremation or incineration.

Halt Mercury!

Given the risks involved with mercury use, an international treaty has been recently adapted to reduce its consumption. The treaty involves a phase-out period while exploring mercury-free alternatives for the use of the industrial and health sector.

Dr. Lillian Ebuen, head of the Philippine Chapter of IAOMT pointed out that there’s already a government order in  place, calling for hospitals and other healthcare facilities to stop using mercury-containing products and it’s about time that the dental sector – including the dentistry schools – to follow suit. 

“There are better options such as resin-based composites and atraumatic restorative treatment (ART).  These have consistently proven to be more practical, more durable and more affordable than dental amalgams. In fact, developed countries have moved away from using mercury in treating caries altogether.” she adds.

Total Body Dentistry espouses mercury-free dentistry and strictly follows/observes protocols devised by IAOMT on the removal of dental amalgams. For questions regarding our mercury-free services don’t hesitate to call us at (02)727.8665 or email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .