In order to fill the cavities, dentists have been using filling material which is known as dental amalgam. This amalgam is also known as silver filling. While it may seem OK but concerns about amalgam have been raised due to inclusion of mercury in these fillings. Some common questions about dental amalgams are answered below.
What is dental amalgam?
Dental amalgam is the most popular and effective dental filling material being used in dentistry for last 150 years. Although it is also called silver filling, it does contain a number of other metals too. Silver, tin, mercury and copper are the most commonly used metals in the preparation of amalgam. Other metals which are used in small amount include zinc, indium or palladium.
In order to fill the teeth, tooth-colored materials are being for preparation of fillings. Such materials bring no major side effects but they cannot be used in all circumstances. Although dental amalgams are not frequently used now as they were in the past, there may be many cases in which there would be no option other than the use of amalgam as filling material. The situation may vary from patient to patient.
The safety of amalgam
Dental filling have been used on millions of patients. The main point of concern here is the use of mercury in amalgam.
There have been studies conducted on the safety of amalgam. In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did an evaluation and found no reason for restricting the use of amalgam. The authority concluded that dental amalgams are safe for adults and children aged 6 years and above.
Reason for the use of mercury
Mercury is used in amalgams because it makes the filling solution pliable. When it is mixed with an alloy powder, the product prepared as a result is a compound which is soft enough to mix and press into the tooth. However, this material hardens pretty quickly and becomes ready to withstand great pressure which comes from chewing and biting.
The concern about mercury
Mercury is a naturally occurring metal which exists in air, water and even foods we eat. In many cases, this metal exists as liquid and it is mainly used in thermometers.
The mercury exposure has not been a point of concern for many years until there was conducted a study which suggested that level of mercury has been raised in the fish we eat due to mercury wastes being disposed into the oceans. Furthermore, industries throw a lot of mercury into the air.
So, it’s not specifically about level of mercury in amalgams because it has never been harmful in the past. It is more about the amount of mercury which our bodies are exposed against.
While there is a conclusion that mercury in amalgam is not a health risk, several health communities raise questions about it. It is worth mentioning that case may vary from person to person. In order to know more about it, you can ask your dentist.