Costa Mesa, California has become the first city in the United States to call for an immediate end to dental amalgam, the controversial filling material that is 50% mercury. Voting 5-0 on 19 October 2010, the Costa Mesa City Council adopted the resolution sponsored by Councilman Gary Monahan that (1) calls on federal and state agencies to eliminate amalgam, (2) asks dentists in Costa Mesa to cease using mercury and switch to non-toxic alternatives, and (3) requests that the other 33 cities in Orange County join Costa Mesa in opposing dental mercury.
While as a resolution, it does not ban amalgam, it is an important step toward ending this health and environmental scourge.
The problems with dental amalgam are 2-fold. One, the material is 50% mercury and the controversy arises about it's toxicity. For every study that says the material is potentially toxic, there is a study that says it is not toxic. Two, the material does not add strength back to the tooth and in factmakes the tooth more likely to fracture, as the material expands and contracts. Composite resins and ceramic restorations have become the choices of many people in the 21st century.
Costa Mesa is not the only area to see the problems in dental amalgam. Japan and most of western Europe do not use amalgam fillings, and have not used them for many years. We stopped placing these type of fillings in our office 20 years ago. We have excellent alternatives, composite resins and ceramics are tooth colored, contain no mercury, and reinforce the remaining tooth structure.