Dental Amalgam Fillings: What You Need To Know 

Dental Amalgam Fillings

Dental amalgam fillings are crucial procedures in dentistry. Dentists have been using this procedure for over 150 years. And compared to other procedures, amalgam boasts several advantages, including an impressive bacteriostatic effect.

Be it an animal or human; the mouth is a crucial part of the body. It houses the teeth, whose functions include cutting and grinding of food particles for easy digestion. So, the teeth deserve proper care like every other part of the body.

Keep reading to learn more about dental amalgam filling.

What Is Dental Amalgam Filling?

The first amalgam was used in England and France in 1826. In the United States of America, the first amalgam was used in 1830. However, numerous harmful effects were noticed in dental amalgam filling. And in 1840, the American Society for Dental Surgeons put to stop to the dental filling. But fast forward to today, amalgam is a widely accepted dental filling procedure.

The Constituents Of Dental Amalgam Filling 

For a dentist to conduct a dental amalgam filling, it simply means that the process is safe. Dental amalgam filling has been in use for more than a century. However, the constituents of this dental filling procedure have made individuals to raise a lot of questions.

So, what are amalgam’s constituents? Amalgam is composed of mercury alloy and some metals. The major components or materials are mercury, copper, silver, and tin, including trace metals.

The inclusion of mercury in amalgam has raised a lot of health-related questions in years past. Amalgam’s popularity has also diminished in recent times, given that other dental filling options don’t include mercury.

Amalgam also comes in various types. These include:

  • Dental amalgam
  • Potassium amalgam
  • Sodium amalgam
  • Aluminum amalgam
  • Ammonium amalgam

The dental amalgam filling is further divided into two areas, such as the low and high copper filling.

The low copper dental amalgam fillings were the most popularly used procedures back in the days. But the high copper dental amalgam has almost overthrown them.

The high copper amalgam boasts an impressive list of properties. It boasts less corrosion, high strength, less creep, and other teeth-related health risks.

Mercury In Dental Filling: Should You Be Worried?

Mercury is one of the dental amalgam’s constituents. It’s also the reason most people have reservations about going for dental amalgam fillings.

But the big question is, does mercury leak from dental amalgam fillings? Yes, it can. However, reports have shown that people who have amalgam fillings have nothing to fear.

According to the International Journal of Dentistry, the mercury that usually leaks from dental amalgam fillings is in the form of a vapor. The professional body stated that such leakage doesn’t cause toxicological effects or systemic diseases.

However, the International Journal of Dentistry acknowledged that users might experience an allergic reaction, but it only happens in rare cases. It’s also not enough to discontinue the use of dental amalgam restorations or prevent dental clinics from administering it.

Dental Amalgam Filling: Is It Safe?

Health is wealth. And knowing the health implication of any procedure before undergoing it is a wise decision to ensure your health isn’t jeopardized.

As earlier said, the major reason people have reservations about dental amalgam restorations is the constituents. And one of those is mercury.

So, what is mercury? Mercury is known as a chemical element present in the earth’s crust. Mercury is also present in the environment. Now you can see that dental amalgam isn’t the only process that exposes humans to mercury.

Everyone single individual is exposed to mercury, one way or the other. Traces of mercury can be found in the urine and blood. You don’t need to undergo dental amalgam for that to happen.

Nevertheless, Dental amalgam raises mercury levels in the body. The only difference is that the increase isn’t high enough to cause any health issue of great significance. A large chunk of the mercury released from this dental restoration is recorded during the placement or removal of the filling.

Now come to think of it. Amalgam has been in use for over a century and a half, indicating that the procedure is as effective as claimed. A series of researches have also been performed to ascertain the connection between dental amalgam and Alzheimer’s disease. None of those researches has found a link between both.

Despite the availability of numerous tooth restoration options, amalgam still stands out. Amalgam is long-lasting and an effective procedure used in restoring a decaying tooth. The ability to tolerate the drastic temperature changes in the mouth makes amalgam a wise choice.

The FDA has also reported that amalgam is safe for adults and kids between the ages of 6 and above.

Why Is There Mercury In Dental Amalgam Fillings? 

The mercury used in amalgam is not the same as the one found in most fishes. Furthermore, half the amalgam restorations performed thus far are liquid mercury, while the other is powdered alloy of tin, silver, and copper.

Now, why is mercury this relevant in dental amalgam fillings? The simple reason is that it serves as a binding agent. It binds the various alloy particles to ensure a durable and strong dental filling.

The unique property mercury has, is another reason it’s considered a crucial element in dental amalgam procedure. Mercury is liquid at room temperature, and thus, bonds with the alloy powder nicely. And this contributes to amalgam’s solidness and durability.

Do Dentists Still Use Dental Amalgam Filling

The dental filling is one procedure that most people need to keep their teeth healthy. A trained dentist is needed for this procedure.

Dental amalgam or silver filling has been in use for many years and is still in use today. There are also tons of dental amalgam fillings in hospitals, clinics, and dental schools in different parts of the world. And amalgam is considered safe and stable.

But despite being effective and stable, many people are still skeptical about getting such fillings, knowing that mercury is one of the constituents.

Dental Amalgam: Pros and Cons

An amalgam is still a viable option for many people, even though some have a contrary view. Below are the reasons this dental filling is a wise choice.

The Pros:

  • Budget-friendly – One reason amalgam filling is still a top choice for many, is because of its cost. This procedure is pocket-friendly and presents a lot of people the opportunity to get rid of their decaying tooth.
  • Sturdy – When it comes to durability, amalgam is a top choice. Amalgam can withstand the temperature changes within the mouth, including the constant wear and tear.
  • Last longer – One of the reasons amalgam fillings has been a great choice for many is that it lasts longer. It can last from 10 to 15 years.
  • Prevents future cavities – If you want to prevent cavities from occurring in the future, amalgam is a wise choice. This procedure makes the tooth’s edge right next to the filling resistant to cavity buildup. And this means that if you’re susceptible to cavities, amalgam can help keep your tooth safe throughout your lifetime.
  • Ability to chew food items – Of what use is a dental filling if you can’t chew food items with it. With amalgam, you can chew many food items without destroying the filling. But with other filling options, you can’t take such a risk. Examples include composite or ceramic fillings.

The Cons:

Several studies have reported that amalgam is safe. However, there are still cons or concerns that are preventing many people from doing this procedure. Below are the various cons.

  • Sensitive teeth issue – Amalgam fillings can cause sensitive teeth. Many individuals have reported an increase in tooth sensitivity with this dental filling. According to scientific research, the reason could be the change in temperature in the mouth, ‘which the metal filling reacts to.
  • Teeth discoloration issue – Silver fillings are not immune to discoloration. The silver-like appearance can become darker with time. That is why most people prefer installing amalgam at the end of their mouth.
  • Teeth weakness issue – Another clear reason most people are deciding against amalgam is its ability to weaken one’s tooth. And this boils down to how the filings are installed. The dentist usually removes some part of the tooth’s tissue before placing the filling. Consequently, the other teeth are weakened or damaged to some degree.
  • Stained teeth issue – There is a huge chance that one might require tooth stain removal after an amalgam filling. Amalgam holds the record as the only filling that causes stain around one’s teeth. When such stains happen, the dentist has to remove the filling before applying the tooth stain removal.

Note – Amalgam fillings are long-lasting, affordable, and sturdy. They can withstand the temperature change in one’s mouth and make chewing several foods possible. However, there are other options out there. So, if you’re not sure about getting dental amalgam filling done, you can discuss the other options with your dentist.

Dental Amalgam Filling Procedures

Amalgam is a delicate dental restoration procedure that only a trained professional, a dentist, should handle. So, even if you can apply the amalgam to your tooth all by yourself, you shouldn’t do that. Other procedures are carried out before an amalgam filling is applied to a decaying tooth.

The dentist first has to drill the decaying tooth and remove the decaying parts. The next step is the shaping of the tooth in preparation for the dental filling.

Next is getting the amalgam putty ready. For this, the dentist has to mix the powdered alloy with the mercury liquid. And this must be done in the right safety condition and environment.

The amalgam is then placed in the prepared cavity and shaped appropriately. The filling would solidify gradually.

Things To Do Before Dental Amalgam Filling

You need to consider several things before undergoing a dental amalgam filling. Let’s highlight some of them below.

  • Is dental filling necessary? – One thing people need to know is that not every case of cavity requires dental filling. Your dentist may decide to use such after removing the decaying part and spot that there’s a need to fill it up, to enable you chew and bite with the tooth. Filling up the spot would also prevent any future buildup that can cause the tooth to decay.
  • The cost of the dental filling and your budget – Dental amalgam filling isn’t the only option out there. However, what makes it a wise choice for many is that it’s inexpensive. But if you have the means and prefer other options, you can give composite dental filling a shot.
  • How long will it last – If durability is a priority for you, it’s likely that dental amalgam filling will be the most preferred option. Compared to composite, dental amalgam filling usually last long. An amalgam can last more than ten years, while a composite filling  lasts for five years. You may get ten years, in rare cases.

Dental Amalgam Fillings – Do’s And Don’ts

There are certain things you can and can’t do after having a dental amalgam filling. Your dentist would probably provide you with some instructions. But let’s discuss that a bit.

  • You should abstain from food for the next 24 hours after this dental procedure.
  • Biting and chewing should be done carefully and on the opposite side of your mouth after having the filling.
  • Don’t eat sticky foods too soon. Doing so will affect the filling.
  • Do not eat or drink cold drinks or hot food. Doing so may likely trigger sensitivity.
  • Avoid hard and sugary foods.

Conclusion

Dentists use fillings when there’s decay in one’s tooth. After removing the decay, they use the filling to cover up the tooth where the decay occurred.

Dental amalgam fillings are one of the procedures used in the dental filling. And they have been in use for more than a century. Many people have raised concerns about the possibility of mercury poisoning occurring from this procedure, but there isn’t enough evidence to back it up. A number of reputable bodies have also agreed that dental amalgam fillings are safe.