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Amalgam Fillings: What you need to know?

Oct 11, 2023Cosmetic Dentistry, Oral health

What you need to know about Amalgam Fillings?

Dental amalgam is a mixture of various metals including mercury, silver, tin, and copper, commonly used in dentistry. Dental amalgam, occasionally referred to as silver-colored fillings, has been a prevalent cavity-filling material among dentists for over a century. This is due to its durability and cost-effectiveness when compared to alternatives like tooth-colored composites or gold fillings.

Due to their robustness, the silver-colored fillings are frequently preferred for extensive cavities or ones located in the molars that require significant chewing force. The quick hardening ability of amalgam makes it a valuable resource for situations wherein maintaining dryness during placement can be challenging, especially in regions beneath the gum line. Amalgam is an efficient filling material that can be used for children and individuals with special needs. It requires less time to place than tooth-colored fillings, making it an ideal choice for those who struggle to stay still during treatment.

Amalgam fillings have a drawback as they do not bear a natural appearance, particularly when positioned near the anterior part of the oral cavity. This could result in its visibility while laughing or speaking, which is certainly not an aesthetically pleasing feature. In order to accommodate an amalgam filling, the dentist may require additional removal of tooth structure compared to alternative filling options. Proper preparation of the tooth is essential for successful placement of the filling.


Why is mercury used in dental amalgam?

The composition of a dental amalgam filling consists of liquid mercury and a powdered alloy made of silver, tin, and copper in equal proportions. The purpose of using mercury is to bind the alloy particles into a robust and long-lasting filling material. Mercury possesses distinct characteristics, whereby it remains in a liquid state at normal room temperature and effectively bonds with alloy powder. These attributes render it a vital constituent of dental amalgam that significantly enhances its durability.

The selection of the dental decay filling material is a decision that must be taken by both you and your dentist. While choosing, it is crucial to bear in mind the subsequent information concerning dental amalgam fillings.


Are Dental Amalgam Fillings Safe?

During the process of inserting or extracting amalgam fillings, there is a possibility of releasing a minimal amount of mercury vapor. Furthermore, while chewing, small quantities of mercury vapor can be released from the amalgam present in the teeth. The inhalation or ingestion of these vapors may result in human absorption. Nonetheless, the safety of dental amalgam fillings is upheld by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for both adults and children aged six and above.

Dental amalgam is classified as a medical device by the FDA and its safety and effectiveness are closely monitored. The FDA assumes the responsibility of ensuring that adequate directions for use and applicable warnings are included in the product labeling for dentists.

Government agencies, including the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have been conducting scientific research since the 1990s to establish a potential correlation between dental amalgams and health complications. In its 2001 report, CDC concluded that there is scant evidence to support any such link:

  • It is widely recognized that dental amalgam has a detrimental impact on the health of the majority of individuals.
  • The extraction of amalgam fillings provides advantageous implications on one’s well-being.

In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a suggested regulation to classify dental amalgam as a class II medical device with specialized controls.

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