Mercury Fillings


Mercury fillings being phased out.


For years there has been controversy over the placement of mercury based fillings and wheither or not they are safe. They have been linked to all sorts of illnesses but now an abundance of research has shown that having mercury based fillings in our mouths is safe. Mercury based fillings (we call them amalgam or silver fillings) have been used successfully for over 100 years and are a successful, strong and a reliable restoration.

However the Minamata Convention on Mercury which is an international treaty  designed to protect human health and the environment from  emissions of mercury and mercury compounds has initiated the phasing out of mercury based fillings.  The Convention is named after the Japanese city of Minimata because this city went through a devastating incident of mercury poisoning in the  1950s caused by large scale industrial mercury pollution.  It is expected that over the next few decades, this international agreement will enhance the reduction of mercury pollution in the environment.

The initial restrictions in dentistry in Ireland came into place from 1st July 2018. Dentists are encouraged to cease to use mercury based fillings in children under 15 years and pregnant/breastfeeding mothers. As dentists we are encouraged to move away from amalgam fillings and towards composite (white) fillings. These fillings take longer to place and are in no way as durable as amalgam. An old amalgam filling could last 30 years but in my experience white composite fillings will only last about 5 years before they start to break down. If the cavity to be filled is extra large or if it is close to the gum which may bleed during the filling process, this further reduces the life of the filling. I’m living in hope however that white fillings will continue to improve and some day soon the perfect white filling will come on to the market.