Amalgam Dentistry Melbourne
In the past, the material most commonly used to repair and fill teeth has been a silver-grey coloured amalgam made from powdered silver, tin and copper, mixed with an equal amount of liquid mercury. But that was then. As a modern and holistic dental practice, we are ‘mercury free’. Instead of amalgam, we use a wide range of new-generation tooth-coloured filling materials that are strong and durable, and give you every reason to smile.
Get Mercury Free Dentistry in Melbourne
When better solutions arrive, it makes sense to use them
Amalgam fillings (sometimes called ‘silver fillings’ or ‘mercury fillings’) have played a major role in dental surgeries for almost 200 years. Until recently, there has been no other material that could match the strength and durability of amalgam apart from gold, which of course is far too costly for most people to even consider.
However now, thanks to scientific advances and the use of new technologies, there are a wide range of tooth-coloured materials available that offer the strength, flexibility and durability required to repair or fill a tooth. While the most affordable of these new white filling materials are still more expensive than amalgam, their superior aesthetic qualities easily justify the additional investment.
At Holistic Dental, we believe it makes better dental sense to offer you the best solution available for each procedure, and we believe that amalgam’s day has come and gone.
Why Amalgam Dentistry is not Popular Longer?
Since its invention in France during the early 19th century, millions of teeth have been filled with amalgam. However, beyond its attributes of being hard-wearing, long-lasting and cheap, amalgam also has its downsides. These have become even more noticeable since the development of strong and reliable white filling materials.
To begin with, a mouth full of silver-grey fillings is not a pretty sight. In addition, fitting an amalgam filling often requires the removal of healthy tooth structure so that the filling can hold properly. With white fillings, this isn’t the case. (You can read more about this on our white fillings page.)
Over time, amalgam can expand and potentially weaken, crack or break the filled tooth. Similarly, it doesn’t take too long before the silver/grey colour of the amalgam filling starts leaching into the tooth’s white enamel exterior, making it dark and unsightly.
And then there’s the question mark about the fact that 50% of an amalgam filling is mercury.
Is There any Harmful Side Effects of Mercury in Amalgam Fillings?
For many years, there has been a vigorous debate about the safety of mercury used in dental fillings. On the one hand, while the American Food and Drug Administration continues to state that amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children older than six1, Norway, Sweden and Denmark have either banned, or severely restricted the use of amalgam since 20082. Similarly, although amalgam is still used widely in Australia and New Zealand, a 2012 report for the European Commission3 has recommended the phasing out of amalgam throughout European countries within the next five years.
The debate isn’t so much about the safety of mercury, which is known to be toxic at even low levels of exposure. More so, it’s whether the mercury used in amalgam is stable and contained within filling, or whether it can potentially expose those with such fillings to various health risks associated with mercury.
At Holistic Dental, we have no greater insight or knowledge than the many scientists whose research will inform governments about any action (or inaction) that needs to be taken with regard to amalgam. However, as a holistic dental practice we do not use amalgam fillings.
Mercury Free Practice at Holistic Dental
At Holistic Dental our approach to dental care is based on prevention and reducing the need for rebuilding and restoring. We would prefer not to have to repair or fill your teeth, because we would rather help you care for your teeth properly, so that they don’t suffer from decay or become damaged.
However when you need dental work, we make our recommendations based on the way a procedure in your mouth might impact the rest of your body. Wherever possible, we avoid using toxic materials, and choose treatments and techniques that reflect the way the body naturally heals.
We are also a mercury-free practice because we believe that amalgam is no longer the best choice. The wide range of excellent filling materials available today, including compound resins, ceramics, glass-based agents, porcelain and more, enable us to provide you with the most natural looking and aesthetically pleasing tooth restorations. Just as exciting – and unlike amalgam – many of these new materials can be formulated so that they closely mimic the function (not just look) of your natural teeth.
After all, who wants to spoil their smile with ugly grey fillings, when there are such excellent alternatives now available?
How Can You Get Replaced Your Old Amalgam Fillings?
The decision to replace your exiting amalgam fillings is one that you need to make in consultation with your Holistic Dental practitioner. As every procedure has its risks and drawbacks, we usually advocate only doing work that is urgently required.
If your amalgam fillings are worn or broken, it makes sense to have them replaced with new white fillings. Of course, if you feel that your amalgam fillings are contributing to other health problems, or if you are concerned that a mouthful of silver-grey fillings is an underlying factor is other issues (such as a lack of self confidence), we will work with you to determine the best course of action.
Removing old amalgam fillings increases the risk of releasing mercury. For this reason we will not undertake such a procedure if you are pregnant as mercury in the body can easily cross the placenta.
When removing amalgam fillings, your Holistic Dental practitioner will take special protective measures to safeguard you as well as themselves. Scrap amalgam must be disposed of as hazardous waste.
Procedure for Amalgam Fillings Removal
To remove amalgam fillings, special care needs to be taken to ensure that the patient doesn’t swallow any amalgam debris or inhale mercury vapours.
The following safeguards are used by your Holistic Dental practitioner when removing amalgam fillings:
- A rubber dam is fitted to reduce the chance of amalgam pieces being swallowed or vapours inhaled.
- A special single-use drill is used to minimise vapour release when the amalgam is broken up.
- Maximum suction is used together with a higher-than-normal volume water spray (which also reduces the temperature of the amalgam when being drilled).
In addition, each Holistic Dental practice is fitted with negative-ion generators to minimise the risk of mercury vapour circulating in the clinic. The air from the generators is ducted outside the clinic building, rather than being re-circulated.