Replacing Amalgam Filling

What is an amalgam filling?

An amalgam filling is a silver-mercury mixture commonly used in dentistry to fill teeth which have been broken or damaged by decay. They are often referred to as metal fillings or silver fillings. 

Amalgam is the least expensive type of filling material have been used by dentists for more than 160 years and are still the most common treatment to repair a decayed tooth.

The amalgam is a substance created of silver, copper, tin and zinc mixed with liquid mercury. This combination forms a chemical reaction which sets at room temperature in just a few minutes.

However many people are now opting to have their amalgam fillings replaced by tooth-coloured composite resins due to personal preferences and also the aesthetic benefits.

At Ravenscourt Dental Practice we can help replace amalgam fillings in a safe and professional manner.

All our patients are given an initial assessment, and then we prepare a personalised treatment plan to ensure safe removal and replacement of the amalgam filling.

Replacing amalgam fillings

If a patient’s amalgam fillings are in good condition, and we don’t see decay beneath the dental filling, it can remain in place. For replacement, we take the existing filling out and prepare the tooth for a new filling.

We often replace amalgam fillings based on recommendations from other health practitioners, such as homeopaths, nutritionists, or acupuncturists. These practitioners make recommendations for their patients whose overall health may benefit by replacing an amalgam filling. Our role is purely a technical one, helping patients replace their amalgam fillings safely.

When does a filling need replacing?

Amalgam fillings are easy to see in a patient’s mouth. Replacement filling materials, like porcelain or composite, are matched to a patient’s natural tooth colour, making them less noticeable.

Other health professionals may recommend replacing amalgam fillings to reduce the amount of heavy metal toxicity in your body.

Replacing amalgam fillings is an elective procedure. Patients should note, changing amalgam fillings for another material won’t change any existing oral health issues—these still need to be addressed. Additionally, swapping out filling materials does not automatically improve your existing health conditions. Currently, there aren’t enough studies to support the claim that replacing amalgam fillings improves your overall health.

Options to replace your amalgam fillings

We determine which materials to use following a consultation and examination of your teeth. The materials are based on the size, depth and location of the filling (whether it is a front or back tooth). Larger fillings are required on teeth with a greater amount of decay as more natural tooth structure has been lost.

Our dental team considers the best materials to restore tooth function with a process called composite or inlay onlay (porcelain). Based on patient preference and our recommendation, we may select a white filling, porcelain filling, or gold filling (very rarely) as a replacement.

White Fillings

This combination of BPA-free composite and porcelain filling looks more like your natural teeth. These fillings are strong, but perhaps not as hard-wearing as dental amalgam fillings.

Porcelain Fillings

Porcelain fillings blend in well with natural teeth, last a long time and strengthen your teeth more than composite or amalgam fillings.

Gold Fillings

Gold is stronger than amalgam and lasts a long time. It does not blend in with your teeth and can be expensive.

Depending on the size, depth and loading of your tooth, we’ll help you decide which material to use. Before moving forward, we always discuss the cost of each option so you can make an informed decision based on your needs and budget.

Your Dental Amalgam Filling Replacement Starts with an Assessment

In your first appointment, we gather specific information about you and your oral health. We review your medical and dental history, check your oral health foundation, examine your teeth and do various tests. We make our recommendations based on what we see during the assessment.

Your Medical and Dental History

If you’re an existing patient, we already have most of your information on file. However, we like to make sure we’re up-to-date on any medical updates or learn about any medication you’re currently taking (or have taken recently).

Your Oral Health Foundation

The foundation of your teeth plays a part in the long-term performance of your filling and your overall oral health.

  • We check the gums, as they help hold your teeth in place. Your gums need to be healthy before we perform any significant dental work. We will advise you on the state of your gums and let you know how to make any improvements to them.
  • We notice if your teeth show effects of clenching or grinding. Adding extra load (pressure) to your teeth impacts on the work we do. This habit needs to be controlled so your fillings settle properly. Don’t worry, we can help you manage any tooth grinding issues.
  • We will also look out for any active decay and discuss sugar intake frequency which may need to be addressed.

Dental Examination and Test

After checking your foundation, we examine the amalgam dental filling and determine the best way to replace it. We use tests, such as X-rays, to help us see how large or deep a filling is and whether it's close to a nerve. This helps us recommend other treatments, potentially a root canal procedure instead. During the exam, you receive all the information you need, including an exact quote, before we do anything.

This is your time to ask questions and make sure you understand what’s involved and let us know about any concerns you may have. Are you nervous or anxious about replacing your amalgam fillings? Let us know during the consultation, so we can address your concerns and make the procedure more comfortable for you.

Our Amalgam Filling Replacement Process

At Ravenscourt Dental Practice, we always replace fillings safely. During the amalgam filling replacement procedure we take extra precautions, providing you with:

  • Local anaesthetic gel and local anesthetic injection to numb the tooth area.
  • A rubber dam to isolate the tooth and prevent you from swallowing any particles.
  • Swedish suction that sits right on top of the tooth.
  • Damp gauze to cover your nose. We also have air filtration systems that clean the air in the room constantly.
  • Eye protection, preventing debris from the procedure from getting into your eyes.

During the procedure, the dentist removes all the dental amalgam, cleans and prepares the tooth, then fills the area with new material.

How Many Dental Amalgam Replacement Treatments Do You Need?

The number of treatments depends on the number of amalgam fillings we're replacing, and how long you’re prepared to sit in the dentist’s chair. Many filling replacements may require as many as six visits. Fewer fillings may be replaced in a single visit.

Amalgam Filling Replacement Aftercare

Once we replace your amalgam filling, it can take a few days for the new fillings to settle and feel comfortable in your mouth. Your dentist or the dental hygienist will advise you on how to care for your fillings until they heal. Eating and drinking on those teeth afterward feel much like most normal fillings.

Dr Hitesh Batavia is registered with the British Society for Mercury Free Dentistry, you can access their website using the link:

Do you have any questions regarding fillings? Contact Ravenscourt Dental Practice now on 020 8748 4023 or email: [email protected].