Dental Amalgam is a commonly used dental filling that has been used for over 150 years. It is a mixture of mercury with at least one other metal. Amalgam has many advantages over other restorative material, such as low cost, strength, durability, and bacteriostatic effects.
Why is Amalgam still used?
Amalgam is used in dentistry for a number of reasons. It is relatively easy to use and manipulate during placement; it remains soft for a short time so it can be packed to fill any irregular volume, and then forms a hard compound. Amalgam possesses greater longevity than other direct restorative materials, such as composite. On average, most amalgam restorations serve for 10 to 12 years, whereas resin-based composites serve for about half that time. However, with recent improvements in composite material science and a better understanding of the technique-sensitivity of placement, it should be noted that this difference is decreasing.
Why amalgam when composite materials are available?
While composite or tooth colored fillings are more durable than ever thanks to advancements in technology, there are still many cases where amalgam fillings perform better (and longer). This is often the case with teeth that are naturally subjected to extensive chewing force, such as molars. Mercury is an important part of the amalgam mixture as it contains unique elements that allow it to be manipulated with ease during placement and then harden quickly after. In addition to the benefits of longevity, amalgam fillings are also more affordable than composites.
When is Amalgam not the best choice?
There are circumstances in which composite (white fillings) serves better than amalgam; when amalgam is not indicated, or when a more conservative preparation would be beneficial, composite is the recommended restorative material. These situations would include small occlusal restorations, in which amalgam would require the removal of a more sound tooth structure, as well as in “enamel sites beyond the height of contour.” It is also important to mention that a gold filling is often the best option for patients suffering from Teeth Grinding
Concerns about mercury in Amalgam
Mercury is a naturally occurring metal and one that we are exposed to in small amounts through water, air and food throughout our lives. Excessive exposure to mercury can negatively affect the brain and kidneys – however, it is important to understand that amalgam fillings do not cause dangerous levels of mercury exposure. Numerous scientific studies and thoughtful research have led the FDA to stand behind its position: amalgam fillings are a safe and effective restoration method for patients over 6 years of age.
Safety…What the experts say
A thorough summary of evidence ranging from 2004-2010 led the ADA to reaffirm its position that amalgam is a valuable and safe choice for patients. The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded that both amalgam and composite materials are considered safe and effective for tooth restoration. Mercury poses not risk to dental patients.
Why your dentist wants to replace old amalgam fillings
There are only 3 reason your dentist wants to replace your current amalgam fillings.
- Aesthetics – A composite filling simply looks more like your natural teeth. Replacing metal fillings is a legitimate part cosmetic dentistry.
- Leaking – After a period, it is possible an amalgam filling will leak. This is not supposed to happen and if it is, the filling needs to be replaced. Composite material has gotten better and better allowing it to replace some amalgam fillings.
- Greed – There is no medical reason to replace a perfectly functioning amalgam filling. Science has thoroughly proven mercury in amalgam to be safe for dental patients. If your dentist is recommending you replace amalgam fillings for safety concerns, find another dentist. Replacing amalgam filling has become a popular option for dentist to pad their pockets
Schedule A Consultation
Dental fillings are an important part of treating tooth decay. At our Beaufort dentist office you can talk to Dr. Covington or Dr. DuRant about our cavity treatment options. Call 843-986-0177 or request an appointment online.