Amalgam has been used as a dental filling material for more than 150 years.
An alloy of mainly silver, tin, copper and mercury
- Hard and durable; high wear resistance
- Easy to use
International dental health organization like the World Health Organization, Federation Dentaire International, and also the U.S. Food & Drug Administration have declared dental amalgam as safe and effective.
The followings are some queries about amalgam:
- Mercury, which is poisonous, is used in dental amalgam. Is amalgam filling safe?
Amalgam contains various metals such as silver, copper and tin, as well as mercury. When mercury is combined with these metals, it becomes an inactive stable substance. Only under unusually great pressure or abrasion will the amalgam release a minute amount of mercury vapour. As compared to the daily dosage of mercury being absorbed from the environment, such as food, water and air, the minuscule amount of mercury released from the amalgam fillings is insignificant.
- Should people have the amalgam fillings in their mouths removed in order to prevent certain serious illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease?
There is no scientific literature or evidence which shows that the removal of amalgam fillings helps patients recover from their illnesses, nor is there any evidence which suggests such a relationship. Unless there is an allergic reaction, it is not advisable to have amalgam fillings replaced because of the following reasons:
- Replacement of filling materials will lead to further loss of tooth structure.
- Amalgam is still the most preferred filling material owing to its safety and effectiveness. Tooth-coloured filling material such as composite is not as resistant to stress as amalgam and is not suitable for large cavities. Gold is an effective material, but it is expensive.
- Are some people allergic to amalgam?
Allergic reaction to amalgam is very rare. Within 150 years of usage, there were only 100 documented cases. This type of patients should use other filling materials.
The greyish-silver colour of amalgam is not esthetically appealing.
It is mainly used for restoring back teeth where stress load is high.
Procedures for amalgam filling
- First remove decayed tooth substances.
- Place amalgam filling into the tooth cavity.
- Shape the filling, trim off excessive material, and polish the filling.