the Australian Dental Association
Written by the Australian Dental Association, Nov 27, 2023
Fact Checked
Dental amalgam is no longer commonly used to fix teeth. Dentists are commonly asked "should I have my amalgam fillings removed?" Below is information on the safety of amalgam filling material and whether amalgam fillings need to be removed.   

Amalgam safety

Some people claim that mercury in dental amalgam can cause health issues. There is no quality research that has shown that this is true. Scientific research has shown that the mercury in amalgam fillings is not absorbed well by the body. Small amounts of mercury from amalgam do get into the blood but are removed by the kidneys and passed out of the body in urine.

There are only two proven side-effects of amalgam:
  • Lichen planus - a condition involving small sores on the gum or inside of the cheek.
  • An allergic reaction affecting the soft tissues near the filling. Signs of an allergic reaction can include swelling, redness, and itching, but these are rare.
Dental amalgam has been used less and less for dental fillings over the years. This is not due to concerns directly related to human health, but due to concerns about the environment. Mercury from dental clinics can potentially get into the environment. To prevent this, dentists have created policies and installed equipment to help them safely get rid of amalgam waste to limit the amount released into the environment.

Should I remove my amalgam fillings?

Dental amalgam is a safe and very useful filling material. There is no need to remove and replace your amalgam fillings for no specific reason. There is no scientific evidence that changing healthy amalgam fillings with a different material option, without a specific reason, will produce a better health outcome for patients.

If you choose to have your amalgam fillings removed, make sure you understand the effects of this decision. Each time a dental filling is cut out of a tooth, more tooth structure is cut away. There is also no guarantee that the new filling or material will be better than the amalgam filling already in place. All dentists are trained in how to remove and replace amalgam fillings. Dentists do not need specialist training to do this.

Even though dental amalgam is not commonly used for dental fillings anymore, your dentist may still recommend it as the filling material of choice for certain dental fillings.