SCOTTISH taxpayers have paid more than £400,000 over the past five years so that NHS patients can have their fillings removed.
Patients have had thousands of mercury fillings removed after they claimed they were making them ill, new figures revealed.
Claims have been made that the amalgam fillings, which contain more than 50 per cent mercury, are giving some patients an allergic reaction and causing them to feel ill.
The US Food and Drug Administration have claimed that the vapour from the mercury could be released from simply chewing and then breathed into the lungs.
The Scottish Government however have said the fillings are safe but have already paid for 12,000 mercury fillings to be removed from NHS patients over the past five years including almost 2,000 last year.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “The Scottish Government believes that amalgam fillings are safe to use, which is a view supported by the other UK health departments and the British Dental Association.
“In terms of medical conditions, if there is a proven allergic reaction to a constituent metal of an amalgam filling which is causing oral symptoms for the patients, a consultant may recommend replacement of the amalgam fillings.
“This is quite rare and has to be seen against 1,005,000 amalgam fillings placed in 2011-12 but only 1,900 replaced on the recommendation of a consultant.”
An amalgam filling is made from mixing silver, copper and tin to form a highly durable combination to secure in the mercury.
White fillings or glass resin composites alternatives are available but cost more with some experts arguing that they are not as strong as the mercury filling.
A spokesman for the British Dental Association said: “It is hoped that the demand for fillings will reduce over time as the benefits of a more preventative approach to oral health are realised, which will also allow suitable alternative filling materials to be developed and tested.”