Amalgam is a metal mixture that was commonly used for dental fillings until very recently. The controversy in amalgam use is due to its concentration of mercury, which is concerning from both a health and environmental standpoint. For one, patients allergic to the mercury may experience hypersensitivity. Dentists must also consider alternatives to amalgam use in certain patients such as children, pregnant women, and those with renal complications. Many have argued that the disposal of amalgam can lead to pollution due to the mercury. For these reasons, NYU has decided to place a higher emphasis on alternative filling materials that are deemed safer for both the patient and the environment.
According to the American Dental Association, it is considered unethical to remove an amalgam and substitute it for another material if it does not pose a health hazard to the patient. Essentially, their standpoint is “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. However, dental amalgam has been used in dentistry for over 160 years, and there have been very little changes in that time. Today, in the 21st century, we have much better materials to use to restore teeth. We have not used that "antiquated" material for over 25 years.
If you have any concerns about amalgam fillings or want to know more about it, please feel free to contact our office at (979) 596-5402.