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Why do dentists still choose mercury over white composite fillings?


Dentists still using mercury fillings despite E.U. warnings


It amazes me that in 2014 dentists in Ireland and the E.U. continue to use amalgam fillings that contain mercury. The debate still rages on with many dentists in Ireland standing over their use of amalgam fillings.

To understand why dentists still use amalgam fillings containing mercury, I will look at some of the possible reasons outlined in a 2012 E.U. report.

Whatever your personal preference as regards fillings, it is important that you educate yourself on the dangers of mercury in fillings and have enough information to make an informed decision


Dentists still using mercury fillings despite E.U. warnings


The rate of use of mercury in Europe

Approximately 50% of dental amalgam is made from liquid mercury; it is used to bind the other ingredients of amalgam a powdered alloy of silver, tin and copper together.

According to the 2012 report commissioned by the EU, the total consumption of mercury is estimated at 55-95 tonnes in Europe.

In fact, according to a publication by the Zero Mercury Working Group, we use more mercury in dental amalgam in the EU than in the entire United States. Yet despite the evidence that mercury is toxic and exposure to mercury can have very negative physiological effects, dentists in the E.U still choose amalgam fillings. So why do dentists continue to use mercury in fillings despite other countries including Norway, Sweden and Denmark banning it years ago?


Dentists still using mercury fillings despite E.U. warnings


The durability myth of amalgam

In 2001 the Clinical Research Associates Newsletter conducted a survey where dentists were asked which factors they considered when choosing a type of filling. These were the results: durability, 47%; patients’ preference, 22%; aesthetics, 12%; ease of use, 10%; biocompatibility, 4%.

Dentists claim to use amalgam because of its durability. However, a Dutch study 12 year Survival of Composite vs. Amalgam Restorations questions this theory. Over the course of the 12 year study, 15% of composites failed, compared to 25% of amalgam fillings.

Composite resin fillings bond to the tooth giving it greater strength and integrity, and actually decrease the chance of the tooth fracturing in the future. Amalgam, on the other hand, just fills a hole.


Dentists reluctant to get new training

The 2012 report also revealed that new equipment and training is needed for the use of white composite fillings, which dentists are often reluctant to invest in. They note: “Some dentists are reluctant to change their current practice and to invest in new equipment required to handle Hg-free fillings.”

There is also the matter of training:

“Not all EU dentists are properly trained and skilled in conducting Hg-free restorations, and insufficiently trained dentists may be more reluctant to propose Hg-free restorations to patients. This may be partly due to a lack of initial training in Hg-free techniques in dental schools, although the situation is improving in some Member States.”


Lack of education among patients and dentists

The 2012 report also found that both dentists and patients are unaware of the dangers of mercury from amalgam fillings. Patients are unaware and therefore don’t ask their dentist about getting alternative fillings.

The lack of education on the dangers of mercury in amalgam is startling considering the amount of information available on the web. We try to provide as much information as possible about the dangers of mercury to our patients so they can make an informed decision on which type of dentistry they choose.

We can only hope that more and more dentists begin to use the white composite fillings for the benefit of patients and the environment in general.


Remember you, the patient, have the choice to make about which type of filling you want.

If your dentist does not provide composite fillings, you can and should consult with another dentist.

Of course, if you want to discuss the removal of your amalgam fillings with myself or my expert team, please give us a call 01 2866394.

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