Avenue Dental does not use amalgam as a filling material.


What is Amalgam?

Amalgam is the name given to compounds where Mercury is mixed with another metal. In dentistry, this commonly used filling material is a combination of mercury with silver and tin, together with small amounts of zinc and copper. Of this mixture approximately 50% is Mercury.

Why is there a problem?

Mercury vapour is released from amalgam and this is not disputed by any authority. Several studies have shown that the amount of Mercury released can be in the range of 20mcg – 150mcg/m3, remaining high for 90 minutes after stimulation. Examples of ‘stimulation’ are the ingesting hot drinks, chewing and tooth brushing. To get the amount of this release in perspective, latex paints which contained mercury have been taken off the market after being shown to release only 2 to 3 mcg/m3.

What do the Authorities say about harmful effects?

Australias’ National Health and Medical Research Council [NHMRC] in its brochure on amalgam fillings implies health concerns are alarmist but then goes on to recommend that amalgam placement or removal be avoided during pregnancy, when breast feeding, in children and those with kidney disease. Can this list really be regarded as exhaustive? Is the NHMRC saying everybody not falling into these groups will tolerate amalgam without harm?

The World Health Organisation [WHO] stated in 1991 and confirms in its policy paper of August 2005, that mercury contained in dental amalgams is the greatest source of mercury vapour in non industrialised settings, exposing the concerned population to mercury levels significantly exceeding those set for food and air. Of the mercury vapour released by amalgam fillings a small amount is dissolved in saliva and swallowed but the majority is inhaled. 80% of this inhaled vapour is absorbed by the lungs going straight into the oxygenated blood stream. The WHO report adds that, It may cause harmful effects to the nervous ,digestive, respiratory, immune systems and to the kidneys… Given that at rest the largest proportion of oxygenated blood is supplying the brain, it should not be a surprise that the possible ‘adverse health effects’ mentioned by WHO lead with tremors, impaired vision and hearing, paralysis, insomnia, and emotional instability…

Other problems

Cosmetics – The cosmetics of amalgam are a problem. It has a grey/black appearance and in addition stains tooth structure.

Cracking teeth – The physical attribute of expansion as amalgam solidifies leads to the danger of the cracking and fracturing of your teeth when an amalgam filling is placed. After the initial expansion, amalgam corrodes continuing the expansion and further endangering your teeth to cracking and staining.

Amalgam Removal

Avenue Dental follows the holistic dentistry approach to amalgam removal outlined by the Australian Society of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (ASOMAT) for those patients seeking amalgam removal for medical reasons. This holistic dentistry protocol involves the affected teeth being isolated with ‘rubber dam’ and where appropriate the administration of oxygen through a nasal mask.  This provides an independent air supply, which largely prevents the inhalation of the mercury vapour inevitably generated during amalgam removal. To reduce mercury vapour generation, we use tungsten carbide burs to ‘chop’ out the amalgam, rather than diamond burs which create more mercury vapour as they ‘grind’ the old filling away.