With all this controversy over the use of mercury fillings, you might be wondering why we don’t just stop using them.
Although some dentists in the UAE now operate ‘mercury-free’ dental practices, the majority still use dental amalgam – including all dentists.
The reason for this is simple: no other filling material is as cheap, durable and easy to place as amalgam. And the NHS pays dentists for only basic dental work. Banning amalgam outright would make basic dental care unaffordable for more people.
There is certainly pressure for dentists worldwide to phase down their use of amalgam, mainly for environmental reasons, so it’s likely we will see more and more countries introducing restrictions on amalgam fillings and promoting the use of alternative materials.
Getting dental fillings during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Pregnancy hormones make women more susceptible to oral health problems such as gingivitis, so it’s important to continue regular dental checkups while pregnant. NHS dental care is free for pregnant women and those who have given birth in the last year.
Dentist may postpone treatment for pregnant women
It’s perfectly safe to get your teeth cleaned at the dentist during pregnancy to maintain good oral health. However, dentists may prefer to postpone more intrusive procedures – especially those requiring anaesthetic – until after the birth, unless there is an urgent need (e.g. if you are in pain).
If your dentist identifies a dental cavity while you’re pregnant, he or she will assess how urgently you need a filling and will advise you accordingly.
Note that if you do need a filling while pregnant or breastfeeding, the EU regulations introduced in 2018 mean that dentists shouldn’t use dental amalgam unless there is a clinical reason to do so. Instead, they should offer you composite or another alternative.
These regulations are in place to reduce the environmental impact of mercury; not because of any proven health risks.