Amalgam is a mixture of metals, which is considered as the most popular and effective filling material used in dentistry almost for the last 150 years. It sometimes is called “silver amalgam (these include silver, mercury, tin, and copper). Small amounts of zinc, indium, or palladium also may be included. Hence, dental amalgam is a common material used to fill cavities. Tooth-colored materials can now be used to restore missing teeth.
However, newer materials can’t be used in all the conditions. Amalgam is less expensive than other materials and holds up better over time, especially in teeth that undergo much pressure and wear from chewing. Amalgam fillings contain mercury, and mercury is used in amalgam as it helps to make the filling material pliable. When it is bonded with an alloy powder, a compound is created that is soft enough to mix and press into the tooth. At the same time, it also hardens quickly and can withstand the forces of biting and chewing.
The Benefits of Dental Amalgam
Amalgam fillings are regarded as an effective way to prevent dental decay and restore the area of a tooth that has been ruined by dental cavities. Amalgam becomes very hard when it dries. Hence, it is long-lasting and more cost-effective than many other types of dental filling materials (such as polymer filling material).
Risks of Amalgam Fillings
- There is a risk of using amalgam due to its mercury content. Mercury has been found to release a kind of vapor that can be inhaled into the lungs and travel to different parts of the body. But the FDA believes dental amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children ages six and above.
- Though rare, in a few cases, people may be allergic to the components in amalgam fillings, such as mercury, copper, silver, or tin. An allergic reaction may result in oral lesions (sores in the mouth) or other reactions. Those who have reactions to amalgam fillings are encouraged to discuss alternative options (other than amalgam) for dental filling material. The American Dental Association claims that fewer than 100 cases of this kind of allergy have ever been reported. But people who are allergic to amalgam can receive other filling materials.
- Research has not shown any health effects of amalgam fillings in pregnant women. As mercury can cross the placenta, dentists usually advise pregnant women to avoid unnecessary dental care during pregnancy. Hence, it is better not to get amalgam fillings during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Dentists can suggest other substitute materials for any pregnant woman who needs a cavity filled.
- Concerns about mercury are linked with the total amount of mercury absorbed from all the different sources. Therefore, some people who have very high exposure to mercury may want to avoid dental filling with amalgam. These kinds of people, maybe those who are exposed to mercury through their jobs, or who eat large amounts of seafood.
Hence, the primary concern here is mercury. But to be honest, everyone is subjected to mercury through air, drinking water, soil, and foods containing mercury. Concerns have been aroused, for instance, about the amount of mercury carried in fish because of pollution. When the industries that burn mercury-containing fuels mercury enters the air. As with most substances, the level of harm induced by mercury in the body is related to the amount. Deficient levels don’t stimulate any ill effects. At higher levels — for instance, when people are exposed to mercury through their jobs — mercury can lead to several health hazards and symptoms. These include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, memory loss, headaches, and fatigue. Studies depict that the amount of mercury we are exposed to from your fillings is lesser than the amount that people are exposed to in their daily environment or in the food they eat.
Dentists also use other materials to restore teeth. These include composite resin, porcelain, and gold. Amalgam is more durable than composite resin and needs less time in the dentist’s chair. Composite resin is a tooth-colored material. But, as it wears faster than amalgam, composite resin can’t be used in every situation. Hence, amalgam fillings are one of the various services we provide here at our San Francisco office. If you have any queries, please give us a call or ask one of our knowledgeable dentists or staff members during our office hours at Dr. Mohhamad Ali’s office, San Francisco.
If left neglected, oral diseases may result in a variety of health problems. Hence, maintaining good oral hygiene, and keeping routine dental appointments can reduce the risk and severity of dental issues. At Dr. Mohamed Ali’s office, San Francisco, he will thoroughly assess your mouth before recommending amalgam fillings for you considering your dental problems. If required, he might suggest some alternatives which are best suited for your needs. The billing experts will inspect your insurance benefits and will offer you a complete treatment plan with all the necessary arrangements. Every major dental and medical PPO insurance plans are accepted, including Medicare. There is also an in-office Plan for Health for those who don’t have any insurance. Also, we have partnered with various financial institutions like The Lending Club, Care Credit, Healthcare Finance Solutions to make your treatment extremely affordable. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. So sit, relax, and get sparkling white teeth. If you are ready to boost up your smile, give us a call or visit our website today! You can reach us at 415.391.7751.