New EU rule will mean fewer amalgam fillings

Date published: 02 July 2018

A NEW rule on how dentists use amalgam fillings has come in to force.

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The EU directive, effective from July 1, places restrictions on the use of amalgam or ‘silver’ fillings in ‘baby’ teeth, and in children under 15, except when deemed strictly necessary on specific medical, including dental, needs. The directive is part of an EU-wide long term drive to reduce the release of mercury into the environment, and similarly restricts amalgam fillings for pregnant or breastfeeding women, again unless deemed necessary by the dental practitioner.

Chief Dental Officer, Simon Reid said: “Dentists across the United Kingdom have already been applying the precautionary principle and avoiding amalgam when treating pregnant women for the last 20 years. It is worth bearing in mind that all dental interventions, regardless of materials used, should be kept to a minimum during pregnancy.”

“The new EU directive is not a reflection on any specific safety concerns and there is no evidence of any real direct health risk from amalgam. Methods used by dentists in its preparation, use, and disposal, already reduce any exposure to mercury. Your dental professional will be able to offer you the best advice for your situation and explain what filling material is most appropriate for your needs. This may still be amalgam. It is still an effective filling material for particular situations, and the EU and UK Regulations allow exemptions when amalgam can be safely used in the same way that it has for many years.”

The ideal scenario is of course that fillings are not required at all. Simon Reid offered the following top three tooth tips to help avoid tooth decay. “Firstly, reduce the consumption of food and drinks that contain sugars, particularly at bedtime. Secondly, brush at least last thing at night, and another time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste. Your dental team can advise on toothpaste strength and quantity. Thirdly, visit your dentist regularly, taking your children from a very early age.”

Notes to editors: 

More information, including an FAQ factsheet, is available on the department's website

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