21 Apr The Truth About Amalgam Fillings
What To Know About Silver Fillings
First of all, despite their nickname amalgam fillings are not 100% silver. In fact, a mixture of mercury, tin, copper, and silver compose dental amalgam. The combination of metals is silver in color, giving them the nickname.
For over 100 years, dentists use amalgam fillings as a cheaper alternative to gold or tooth-colored cavity fillings. Whether or not you or your child should opt for silver fillings is a decision best left to you and your dentist. However, it is important to know the facts behind what permanently goes in your mouth.
Fact: Mercury Makes Amalgam Fillings Stronger
About half of the amalgam compound consists of mercury. The rest is a mixture of silver, copper, and tin powders. The mercury binds the other metals together to create a durable substance that repairs and protects tooth enamel. Dentists use mercury because it bonds so well with the Approximately half of a dental amalgam filling is liquid mercury and the other half is the powdered alloy mixture. Without the mercury, amalgam fillings would not be as durable as they are.
Fact: The FDA Considers Dental Amalgam Safe
For adults and children above the age of six, amalgam is a safe material to use for dental fillings. While the FDA continues to evaluate the dangers mercury poses, the consensus is that dental amalgam is a safe and long-lasting option for fillings.
Fact: Amalgam Fillings Have Two Very Important Benefits
People opt for amalgam fillings for tow reason:
- They are cost efficient – dental amalgam is the most affordable filling material available.
- They are durable – amalgam fillings outlast other filling options and are less likely to fracture.
Fact: Amalgam Poses Risks
Mercury poisoning is a real problem that puts brain and adrenal systems at risk. With that in mind, the FDA does not recognize a correlating relationship between amalgam fillings and mercury poisoning. However, they do not recommend silver fillings for young children as little to not data exists on the effects they have on their neurological developments. If you wish to err on the side of caution, choosing amalgam fillings for you or your child is not a sound decision.
Furthermore, some people have allergies to the metals that exist in amalgam fillings. Getting silver fillings with an allergy to one of the components results in allergic reactions such as oral lesions. If you or your child has a sensitivity to mercury, copper, tin, or silver, discuss further filling options with your dentist.
Alternatives to Amalgam Fillings
If you worry about the safety of mercury or the potential risk of allergic reaction to silver fillings, there are options to discuss with your oral health care provider. Alternatives are more expensive than amalgam. However, if cost is not an issue these other options are safe and natural looking.
Composite Resin Fillings
Composite resin fillings are white or “tooth-colored,” so they blend almost seamlessly into the tooth enamel. In fact, your dentist matches the color of the resin to the color of surrounding teeth for ultimate customization. A type of plastic makes composite resin. Then, dentists reinforce it with a glass filler. Your dentist cures the filling with a “blue light” that aids in the final restoration of the tooth. The curing strengthens the mixture for longevity.
The benefits of composite resin fillings include:
- They are durable
- Your dentist does not have to remove too much healthy tooth to custom fit the filling
- They look great and blend into your natural tooth
On the other hand, the disadvantages of composite resin fillings include:
- They cost more than amalgam fillings
- These fillings sometimes need replacement
- Over time, they are less durable
Glass Ionomer Cement Fillings
Organic acids such as eugenol and metal bases like zinc oxide compose glass ionomer cement fillings. They may also contain additional acrylic resins for strength. Over time, glass ionomer fillers release fluoride for stronger teeth. Furthermore, they are white and can be customized to blend into your tooth enamel. Unlike composite resin fillings, glass ionomer cement fillings are self-curing and do not need a final “blue light” treatment to harden.
The downside to glass ionomer cement fillings is they are only suitable for small cavities and restorations. Additionally, they are more expensive than affordable amalgam fillings. However, if you want an easy filling for a small amount of damage, glass ionomer cement fillings are an excellent option.
Questions about amalgam fillings?
The friendly Delray Beach and Boca Raton Dentists of South Florida Smiles can answer any questions you might have about the safety of amalgam fillings. We offer both safe and affordable options for fillings and promise the highest level of care for you and your family. Contact us today schedule an appointment or call us at 561-257-1007.