Should I replace my amalgam fillings ?

That’s a very common question and it’s one that is difficult to give a definitive yes or no answer. Although there has been no conclusive research that shows that silver mercury fillings are harmful to your health (regarding mercury leeching), in our experience we have seen a lot of problems that occur underneath these old fillings. These are problems are not easily observed from the surface or with x-rays and is primarily to do with decay getting under the fillings and cracks in the teeth.


Reasons to replace amalgam fillings to white fillings or inlay/onlay restorations

  •   Remove the amalgam – remove the mercury

Mercury fillings – sometimes called “silver fillings,” “metal fillings” or “amalgam fillings” – are incredibly toxic. Mercury fillings continuously emit mercury vapor, which is absorbed into the body in small amounts. But those “small amounts” can really add up when you have fillings in your mouth leeching mercury vapor into your body every day for one, five, twenty or even fifty years!

  • For a healthier and whiter smile

For many people, having a great smile is really important. Whether this is for a special occasion such as a wedding or holiday or just for day-to-day confidence and peace of mind a mouth full of white teeth is something that many of us strive for. Replacing silver fillings with white ones can get rid of those unwanted dark patches in the mouth meaning that when we smile or open the mouth it appears clean, fresh and healthy!  

  •  Decay under the existing fillings

Because silver fillings are opaque to X-Rays, it’s difficult to see a cavity under the filling until they are quite extensive. Research has shown that when you’re examining a patient with silver fillings, if you don’t use any X-Rays you can see 50% of what is going on and with a full set of X-Rays you will still only see about 80 – 85% of what’s going on. So there is 15% – 20% of cavities that we wont be able to see because the metal blocks out this damage.

Decay can very often set in underneath an amalgam filling. In this case it is recommended to seek advice from your dentist as to the best approach and whether the filling should be removed and then replaced.

  • The age of your filling

Another factor to consider is the cracks in the teeth, which also won’t show on X-Rays at all. We see this commonly in people in their 40’s or 50’s. Amalgam fillings are pretty tough, however our teeth do a lot of work and amalgam adds no strength to a tooth and the tooth itself becomes more likely to break as fillings age. The average lifespan of an amalgam filling is around 12 years however the tooth itself can start to crack and weaken long before the filling fails. Regular dental check-ups will monitor the health of your teeth and fillings but if you are aware that a filling is more than 10 years old, it is certainly worth a visit to your dentist to see whether it needs replacing.

  •  Broken or worn fillings

If your filling wears down, breaks or fractures, then the time is right to replace it. If you have toothache, even if only very mild, then this is usually an indication that something is wrong. Always speak to your dentist at the first sign of tooth pain so that a simple filling or replacement filling doesn’t turn into a more complex or in-depth procedure such as a root canal treatment or even an extraction!

What can be done next?

If any of these reasons resonate with you and you are considering replacing one or more amalgam fillings then please contact our surgery on 01483 573907 to book an appointment or send us an email to

At Guildford Dental Practice we provide a full assessment of your dental status and then recommend a course of needed treatment.

amalgam filling replaced with white filling

Amalgam fillings replaced with white fillings