Wednesday, 27 February 2013


This isn't an RA related post but I wanted to see what others on here think.

I've had to have quite a few dental fillings recently, my first ones apart from a small white one as a child. When I had my consultation the dentist recommended 3 white and 3 black fillings due to the cost and the cosmetic placement of the fillings, with the white ones nearer the front of the mouth.

I am not particularly vain about the back of my mouth and the black ones are quite a bit cheaper. Since I was made to feel like there is no particular reason to choose one over the other apart from cosmetic preference, I agreed to go ahead with this recommendation without giving it too much thought.

Having had the final fillings done this week, I happened to come across information on black fillings which filled me with quite a lot of apprehension. I was not aware that these 'silver' fillings as the dentist marketed them are in fact 50% mercury. Not only that but the mercury vapours leak out daily in tiny doses and these types of fillings have already been banned in quite a few EU countries due to toxicity. They are also not recommended for children and pregnant women by NHS guidelines.

Why did I have to find out this information on the internet? My dentist didn't mention any vital differences, didn't give me any leaflets on risks and benefits and didn't once mention the word 'mercury'. I had no idea, I thought the fillings would be silver and that the whole thing was no big deal. I mentioned this to people at work, many of who had these fillings and none of them knew either and were quite shocked.

I'm very angry that I wasn't given all the facts, but it seems there is an NHS-wide practice of not disclosing this information. No scientific study conclusively proves that the amount of toxin released affects human health, but I don't actually want a highly toxic substance in my mouth, period. I also don't care that many people have had them for years without problems - it's not really the point. Why expose yourself to a toxin when there are perfectly good alternatives?

Had I been given the info, I would've definitely paid the extra £150-£200 to have all 6 fillings in white composite. I understand that for some poorer people the cheap mercury fillings are the only way to combat tooth decay and it might be a worthwhile risk/benefit ratio. However, I don't think it's right to force these fillings on people without giving all the facts. I'm not even saying dentists should say "these are definitely dangerous", just point out that there is mercury in them and little amounts do seep out in the mouth and to ask if the patient is comfortable with going ahead. I'm really angry but I don't really know what to do about it.

I also found out that if I elect to have them replaced with white ones, there is more risk of unnecessary tooth/nerve damage
and more mercury release due to the drilling. So really a lose-lose situation.

I guess I will go back and speak to the dentist to ask why I wasn't told this and see what she says. Pretty sure she will send me out the door telling me to stop wasting her time!


  1. There are dentists that specialize in the removal of mercury fillings and treating the side effects afterwards.

    I agree,it is very scary. I know several people who has had all their mercury fillings removed.

  2. Cathy, it really is. When it comes down to it after finding out the facts I don't want these things in me. I've found a few dental clinics in Glasgow that specialise in safely removing amalgams and I'm making an appointment for next week. It's going to cost me much more than it would've done if I'd just had the originals done in white but I guess I should've done my research and not trusted my dentist so much! Lesson learnt. Time to dust off my credit card..sigh.


    Have you read this? I have no real feelings one way or the other, I've had these fillings a long time and it's a long time since I needed a new one! But be aware there are also potentially problems with the alternatives because when a new substance is developed no-one can know what the long term effects can be - and that applies as much to new filling materials as it does to drugs. And the removal sets mercury vapour free (it is said) and I honestly can't understand how using a dam can prevent that being absorbed.
    Choosing to have no more is a fair decision and one I would take probably - going the whole hog without definite proof one way or the other that the new stuff is better is another thing. Remember - the dentists doing the removals are making a fair bit of money with the private work so are biased.