Although there are plans to remove amalgam by 2030, it is hoped that practices will start to reduce amalgam use long before this date. Many clinics have already stopped using amalgam fillings, and a growing number of dentists are replacing old mercury fillings with white fillings.
Mercury amalgam fillings are made up a mixture of materials, including mercury, copper, tin, zinc and silver, with mercury forming around 50 percent of the filling. In the past mercury fillings were used routinely, but many people have concerns about the safety of mercury amalgam fillings, and there are also environmental issues to consider.
The British Dental Association claims that the announcement from the European Parliament has put an end to speculation about the future use of mercury amalgam fillings, but stressed that these fillings are still safe for use by British dentists. Dentists in the UK continue to have a wide range of materials at their disposal for patients with diverse dental needs, and this is expected to continue until legislation confirms an outright ban.
Most patients now prefer to have white fillings, which are made from dental composite and resins. These fillings are more aesthetically pleasing than silver fillings and they are better for the environment, but they may not last as long as mercury fillings.