Dental amalgam or silver cavity filling is a common material that is used to fill cavities. It is made from a combination of metals, such as silver, mercury, tin, and copper. There have been some concerns about the use of amalgam over the years because it contains mercury and other metals. As you continue reading this article, you will learn all about dental amalgams and begin to understand why some people and dentists still use the teeth filling option.
Dentists have been using dental amalgams for more than 150 years because it lasts for a long time and it is also less expensive compared to other cavity-filling materials, such as gold fillings and tooth-colored composites. Because of its durability, it is often considered by dentists as the best choice for large cavities that occur in the back teeth where a lot of force is used for chewing.
Amalgam is useful in areas that are difficult to keep dry during the placement procedure, such as the gum line because it hardens quickly. It takes less time to place compared to tooth-colored fillings. It is also an effective material for special needs people and children who may find it difficult to stay still during treatment.
The biggest disadvantage of amalgam is that its fillings are not natural looking, especially when the filling is in the front area of the mouth. It may be visible when you smile, laugh, or speak. There is also more tooth structure that is removed while preparing to place the amalgam filling compared to other types of fillings.
Are Dental Amalgam Fillings Safe?
Yes, it is safe and is a commonly used dental material. Most people wonder about its mercury content. When mercury is combined with other materials, it forms a stable and safe material. Rest assured that credible scientific studies have backed it up and affirmed the safety of the use of dental amalgam.
Organizations, such as the American Dental Association, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and US Food and Drug Administration all agree that based on all extensive scientific evidence that dental amalgam is safe and a very effective cavity-filling material. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics, Alzheimer’s Association, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Autism Society of America also say that the use of amalgam as cavity fillers poses no health risk.
Different Types of Mercury
Methylmercury is the mercury found in water that builds up in fish, which lead to health problems if ingested too much. Do not worry; this is not the same type of mercury that is used in amalgam fillings. Amalgam contains elemental mercury, which releases low mercury levels in the form of a vapor that can be absorbed and inhaled by the lungs. Several research studies have found that any amount of mercury released from amalgam in the mouth is very low. The FDA said amalgams are safe for adults and children that are 6 years old and above.
If you think you may have a sensitivity or allergy to mercury or any of the other metals that are in dental amalgam, it is recommended that you discuss treatment options with your dentist. Only high levels of mercury vapor exposure are associated with adverse effects in the kidneys and the brain. Those who eat a lot of seafood and are exposed to mercury through their jobs may want to avoid amalgam. Your dentist’s foremost priority is your safety and health. So it is highly recommended that you discuss all of your dental filling options with your dentist first.
Amalgam Filling Replacement
Amalgam fillings should be replaced once they are broken, worn, and especially when there is decay found beneath the filling. If you have good amalgam fillings and want to replace them with a more natural filling, it is highly suggested that you keep the amalgam filling. Removing good amalgam may result in unnecessary loss of healthy tooth parts and it can release more mercury.
Prevention is better than cure and it is the best medicine for cavities. Decrease the risk of cavities and dental diseases by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, eating a well-balanced diet, and visiting your dentist regularly. Keep your overall oral health always in check and visit your dentist at least twice a year.