The Amalgam filling debate

The phrase “mad as a hatter” comes from the past use of mercury in curing felt for hat-making. Hatters exposed to mercury poisoning in their work developed neurological and psychiatric symptoms


Mercury in any form is poisonous. These days, the occupation most likely to be exposed to mercury is dentistry. Not only are dental workers at risk, but also their clients, past and present. If you are one of the many people with silver-coloured amalgam fillings in your teeth, you could suffer the long-term effects of this potent toxin.

Mercury,from the amalgam filling, can produce many serious adverse health effects, including permanent damage to the central nervous system (especially in children during development), kidney disease, reproductive birth defects because mercury passes through the placental barrier, infertility and lung and cardiac problems.

At this stage, there are two important pieces of advice: do not have any new dental amalgam fillings, especially if you are planning a pregnancy, already pregnant or breastfeeding; and under no circumstances allow your children to have a dental amalgam filling

“The National Health and Medical Research Council has attested to the value and safety of dental amalgam filling, but has suggested that it would be prudent to reduce its use in special populations, including children, women in pregnancy and persons with existing kidney disease.”

If you plan to have your dental amalgam fillings replaced, you need to talk to your dentist to ensure they know about the right safety protocols which include:

  • Use of a non-latex dental dam.
  • Airway protection. Your nose must be covered. There must be pressurised air under the dam for you to breathe.
  • Suction is crucial: in front and behind the dam.
  • The room environment needs an efficient exhaust system.
  • Air conditioning has to have an external vent.
  • Dentist and dental staff need to wear protective masks.

Contact our office to book an appointment if you wish to discuss replacement of your old dental amalgam fillings.

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