The Mercury Filling Controversy

Amalgam fillingWhenever I hear a patient in our Sandy Springs office ask about mercury fillings, I wonder why this question refuses to go away.  For decades, mercury fillings have been considered the primary restorative material for the ones in the back because of their long time success.  After enormous amounts of study, the World Health Organization, the FDI World Dental Federation, and the American Dental Association continue to endorse the use of amalgam to restore teeth.   Yet it continues to be demonized by the public, in particular in urban legends over the internet.

As a result the trend is towards the diminished use of mercury fillings and the increased use of composite resins to restore posterior teeth.  One of our consultants, Tom Limoli of Limoli and Associates notes that US third-party payment data reflects that 65% of direct posterior restorations last year were resin-based composite, while 35% were amalgam.  So regardless of the empirical evidence that refutes these concerns, the patient pool is demanding composite restorations.

While amalgam has been the material of choice for decades and still remains the primary source of teaching in dental schools today, it appears to be trending away the future.  Given the patient demand for composite restorations, we do a lot more composite fillings than in the past. It creates an interesting dilemma for dentists today, when we know that amalgam is the better choice for the restoration, but the popular demand or the path of least resistance is a composite restoration.  This disconnect creates some interesting food for thought.[1]  Please give us a call if we can help you.

Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC

ZoAnna Scheinfeld, MS DMD

Hanna Orland, DMD

290 Carpenter Drive, 200A

Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328


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[1] Additional sources of information came from Gordon J. Christensen, DDS, James F. Simon, DDS, and Howard E. Strassler, DMD. Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry, July/August, 2011.


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