top of page

Amalgam Fillings

The page below explains amalgam fillings; what an amalgam filling is and why aren't they used anymore in dentistry, replaced with a white filling or composite filling. We have an in depth page and video also on Composite fillings/White fillings that you can check out.

We also discuss amalgam fillings removal and the steps associated and safety involved. Finally we discuss the amalgam fillings removal cost.

Amalgam Fillings

Do you have old amalgam fillings that's worse for wear? At Dentista we have a special interest in amalgam fillings removal and can change them into a white filling or use the cerec to insert a brand new and custom fitting inlay. An amalgam filling is also known as a silver filling.

What is an Amalgam Filling

An amalgam filling or also known as dental amalgam, is a filling that was done using a mixture of liquid mercury and a metal alloy mixture. The materials used often consisted in mercury, silver, tin, zinc and others in trace amounts. They are also known as a silver filling and were the filling of choice for many years before composite resin or a white filling became the gold standard for modern dentistry. Chances are that if you had a filling done 20 years ago or more, you have an amalgam filling. 

Amalgam Fillings Removal.JPG

Common example of amalgam fillings

Amalgam Fillings Side Effects

As mentioned earlier, amalgam fillings tended to be used in by gone times in dentistry and there are some amalgam fillings side effects that you should know about.

  • IF your ears didn't prick up when we mentioned that mercury is an ingredient of amalgam fillings then we would be somewhat surprised. In fact, close to 50% of amalgam fillings are made from mercury. The other alloys that make up an amalgam filling include, silver, tin, copper, zinc and other metals in trace amounts.. but they come in a powder form. Mercury on the other hand, is uniquely a liquid metal at room temperature. This is important as it acts as a good binding agent  to the powder alloy. Understandably so, most people these days do not want mercury in their teeth. Although it has been proven with numerous studies that there isn't a danger with the mercury content in amalgam fillings we have still put in that mercury can be considered unwanted amalgam fillings side effects.

  • Amalgam fillings can break teeth.. the larger and longer an amalgam filling is placed in a patients mouth, the more likely it is that the amalgam filling will cause a problem with the teeth themselves breaking. The tooth will often break or crack around the amalgam filling. Unfortunately, this will often require some major repair work such as a crown or implant.

  • Amalgam fillings require more of the tooth to be cut out... including some of the healthy part. Amalgam cannot bond to the tooth. As a result, the amalgam filling usually requires a bit of mass to it in order for it to hold stable. Thus with an amalgam filling, generally the dentist will have to remove a bit more of the tooth in order for the filling to hold in place.

  • Amalgam fillings, as previously mentioned, do not bond with the tooth. As a result of this, there are often microscopic gaps between the tooth and the amalgam. This gap is all the bacteria needs to get into the tooth and decay can often start to reform with an amalgam filling. When we do a restoration of an amalgam filling... often we will find that there is decay underneath

  • Amalgam fillings do not look aesthetically pleasing. Amalgam fillings are often called silver fillings due to their silver colour. This does not look anything like a tooth colour and unlike a white filling, will not blend into the tooth seamlessly. 

If you would like to do something about these potential amalgam fillings side effects, you may be interested in amalgam fillings removal and upgrading your filling to a composite filling

amalgam fillings side effects.JPG

Amalgam filling that has cracked the tooth. Unfortunately this is a somewhat common occurrence with amalgam fillings

Amalgam Fillings vs Composite

So amalgam fillings vs composite... how do the two compare? In comparison to the amalgam fillings described in the previous section, there are many benefits of composite fillings. 

  • cosmetically, the benefits of composites are large. composite fillings will blend into the tooth and has the same colour as your teeth. Unlike amalgam fillings, they will not look out of place and unsightly in your mouth.

  • As we mentioned with amalgam fillings, they do not bond to the tooth. In comparison, white filings/composite fillings bond much better to the tooth and have a tight fit. The other benefit of this is that unlike amalgam fillings, they will not leave tiny gaps where decay can get in and cause further cavities.

  • Again due to the better bonding properties of white fillings/composite fillings, we do not have to cut out as large a hole as we do with amalgam fillings. The hole cut will be as small as possible saving more of the healthy tooth.

  • White fillings do not have as much sensitivity to hot and cold as do amalgam fillings.

  • As mentioned earlier, there is a health concern with the mercury that is used in amalgam fillings. White fillings do not use mercury.

Thus we can see that modern dentistry, when comparing amalgam fillings vs composite fillings, now days we only use composite fillings

Amalagam fillings removal.JPG

Dental Fillings - Dr Carla places a white filling for a patient. See the video for the full procedure

Amalgam Fillings Removal

At Dentista we don't like to see amalgam fillings destroying your otherwise healthy tooth! Many amalgam restorations can last decades and serve your tooth well. At some stage, you may consider amalgam fillings removal treatment and subsequent restoration.

The signs we look out for that your amalgam filling needs to be replaced with a white filling or crown are

1. decay underneath your amalgam filling

2. cracks in your tooth structure radiating from your amalgam filling

3. pain on biting in an otherwise healthy appearing tooth

4. sensitivity to cold in an otherwise healthy appearing tooth 

What is the process to amalgam fillings removal and then replacing the amalgam?

Firstly we numb your tooth with local anaesthetic. If you are anxious we have laughing gas available. We recommend using a rubber dam which acts as a rain coat over the tooth. The rubber dam catches all the amalgam flying around and stops you from swallowing amalgam. 

Amalgam filling rubber dam.JPG
Amalgam fillings removal.JPG

A Rubber Dam is placed around the teeth in order to protect the patient from getting any amalgam (mercury) in their mouth. The amalgam fillings removal can then be carried out

We then clean the tooth from any decay and assess any stains or cracks. Then we ensure the tooth is well sealed with a white restoration.   

Removing Amalgam Fillings Side Effects

With any procedure there can be risks or side effects associated with the treatment. Removing amalgam fillings side effects is generally the following risk


As with any drilling to the tooth, the tooth can become sensitive. Generally the sensitivity settles down within a couple of days. Sometimes the tooth will flare up and require a root canal treatment. The larger the existing amalgam filling, and the larger and deeper any cracks present, the more likely it is the tooth will become sensitive.

Removing Amalgam Fillings Cost

What do removing amalgam fillings cost? To remove amalgam fillings, it cost the price of whatever replacement treatment is necessary. We do not charge you any additional cost or charge for removing amalgam fillings.


For example if you are removing amalgam fillings and replacing them with a composite filling it will cost you between $190 to $600 for a standard filling. Removing amalgam fillings costs does have a variation and this is because it depends on how big the crack is and how big the restoration and filling needs to be.

For a ceramic restoration it costs between $800 to $2000 using the new cerec technology. Note there is no additional fee for using the cerec but you will achieve a much better result and the treatment will be completed in one visit.

Again the difference in price will be determined by how much damage the crack or amalgam fillings have caused and how big the ceramic filling will need to be.

bottom of page