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Dental fillings: a concern for your health? Safety of dental amalgam and alternative dental restoration materials

1. What is dental amalgam?

    Dental amalgam has been used for over 150 years in the treatment of dental cavities and is still used, in particular for large cavities, due to its excellent mechanical properties and durability. One of the major components of the dental amalgam restoration (about 50%) is elemental mercury in combination with alloy particles including silver. Since it is extremely durable, very hard, and relatively inexpensive, amalgam has long been considered and still is the material of choice, especially for certain types of restorations in posterior teeth. However, dental amalgam is neither tooth-coloured nor can it adhere to remaining tooth tissues. Dental amalgam is retained in the tooth by mechanical means, such as undercuts in the cavity preparation, and thus requires a relatively large hole in the tooth material.

    Independently from risk management decisions, a reduction in the use of dental amalgam in oral health care provision is occurring across the European Union. This reduction is in line with concerns about the exposure to mercury from the environment and the general aim to reduce mercury use within the European Union.

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