No more amalgam – change seals?

About 40 tons of mercury are used in dental amalgams every year in the European Union. However, a revised EU regulation provides greater protection against mercury from 2025, meaning the end of silver seals. According to the Tyrolean Dental Association, anyone who has fillings made of composite should not worry.

More mercury in a can of tuna than on the label

A well-placed amalgam filling is harmless, says dentist Ingrid Schilcher. She advises not replacing the seals unless they are cracked.

An amalgam seal contains 50 percent mercury, 30 to 40 percent silver, and zinc, tin, and copper.

“The new amalgam that has been in use for 20 years no longer emits mercury. Fumes arise only during processing and disposal and cause little discomfort to the patient and physician. “But if you eat a can of tuna, you're 20 to 40 times more stressed than filling it,” says Paul Haugnon, president of the Tyrolean Dental Association. In general, people are not negative about the ban, but need alternatives.

Alternatives to enforcement

Amalgam seals have been banned since 2018 for pregnant women, lactating women, children and those suffering from certain diseases. “You have to offer alternatives,” Haugnon says. For example, plastic or ceramic fillings are possible alternatives. ÖGK must now adapt and renegotiate all health insurance contracts accordingly.


Gold fillings are not a substitute for composites due to cost.

More time in the dentist's chair

Amalgam is considered a long-lasting and inexpensive filling material. It can be processed quickly, Haugnon says; Other fillings take longer.

Fillings may need to be replaced more often, Ingrid Schilcher adds, “because the alternatives available now are not as durable as composites. Sometimes teeth can be saved without crowns with the help of amalgam, but it becomes harder now. You need a crown more often than before.” The bottom line for patients is that they Spend more time in the doctor's chair.

It is necessary to check the seals

According to representatives of the dental association, although tooth decay is not a risk for concern, seals should be checked regularly. If the seals are cracked and painful, you should definitely visit a dentist. Some patients will replace implants for aesthetic reasons anyway.

“The best filling is not a filling,” says Schilcher and advocates preventive, professional and regular oral hygiene. The dentist wishes it had more financial incentives.

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