From the 1st July 2018 the regulations governing the use of dental amalgam in the U.K. have changed.In nearly all circumstances dental amalgam is now not to be used to fill teeth in children under 15-both baby teeth and permanent teeth-and in pregnant females and mothers with children under a year old.
The reason for this is not as you might expect for potential toxic effects of mercury which is a constituent of dental amalgam to the patient but for environmental concerns-i.e. to reduce the amount of waste amalgam entering the atmosphere or the water supply .In theory mercury from waste amalgam can be ingested by fish and thereby enter the food chain.
As a material dental amalgam has been used to restore cavities in teeth for around 150 years.It has proven its worth in that time as a strong ,robust material that can restore a tooth to full function for many years.For decades it was the really only available filling material in common use in dental practice.Dental amalgam is still a first class material in many clinical situations.There is also no evidence to suggest that there are any health implications to having dental amalgam placed in the mouth.
So at the moment dental amalgam can still be used for the majority of the population when appropriate under the NHS.In order to minimise the amount of waste amalgam entering the general waste system we at Riverside Dental Practice have what are called amalgam separators fitted to our dental units which trap the vast majority of the amalgam before it can be expelled in the waste system.This waste is then collected and disposed of by authorised clinical waste contractors.
However there are excellent tooth coloured materials now that are equal if not better than dental amalgam to fill back teeth and we now can place these in many situations.