In previous decades, there weren’t many options when it came to fixing dental caries. The only option was amalgam, which is a mixture of several metals. Now that there are other alternatives available, many are asking whether they should opt to have anagram fillings or choose another option. What is right for you really depends on what you are comfortable with.
What are silver amalgam fillings?
Used for more than 150 years, amalgam is a combination of several metals that have been effective at keeping cavities from getting worse. Sometimes called “silver amalgam,” the concentration isn’t always the same; it can contain varying proportions of copper, tin, silver, and mercury. There are also mixtures that have trace amounts of indium, palladium, and zinc. Many patients prefer to use other materials that are tooth-colored instead of using metals that are highly visible. The major advantages to amalgam are that it is less expensive, and it also holds up better to everyday wear and tear.
Is it safe?
There have been many concerns raised about the safety of using amalgam for caries and fillings. As long as it is intact and it doesn’t break down, then amalgam is safe. But the problem is that if there is any breakdown of the metal material it can begin to leak into the bloodstream, and that might lead to someone absorbing mercury or other harmful metals. In 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration evaluated the safety of amalgam and found that there is no reason to question the safety of using it for dental caries in adults or children over the age of 6. However, the results are still questionable and the use of it continues causing debate.
Why is mercury a concern?
Mercury is a metal that has been proven to cause health problems, which is why the safety of amalgam fillings containing it have been called into question. The real controversy is how much mercury is actually contained in filings, and if it is really enough to cause harm to those who have the fillings. Most studies show that the actual concentration of mercury is not enough to cause concern. However, there are instances when people can have a bad allergic reaction to amalgam fillings. This is pretty rare, though: the American Dental Association has estimated that it really only happens in less than one hundred cases per year, so the risk is very low in the general population.
What about pregnant women?
Although mercury is considered dangerous to women who are either pregnant or are in their childbearing years, the risk is actually very low to nonexistent that they can be harmed by amalgam fillings. But if you can hold off on getting fillings during pregnancy or use another material to fill your dental caries, it would make sense not to take a chance if there is another alternative available.
If amalgam is safe, then why does my dentist take such care when using it?
Mercury is not harmful to you if it is in a solid state. It can only cause harm if it is in a liquid state where it can be absorbed. It isn’t just that the amalgam fillings contain mercury; they have other metals, such as indium and copper, which are not safe when they are ingested. When a dentist uses them, they are in a liquid state until they harden. Once they are placed they can’t harm you, but there is a risk they can be absorbed during placement, which is why the dentist has to take precautions.
What are the alternatives to amalgam fillings?
There are other substances that can be used to fill your dental caries that don’t contain harmful substances. So if you are wondering if amalgam is safe, the reality is that if you are even questioning it, then it is better to go with another alternative that is 100% guaranteed safe. Although other options can be more pricey, you do have the assurance that they are safe and that they won’t pose any potential health risk. If you are concerned either about the metals that come with amalgam or being allergic to them, then you should find a safer alternative and rest easy knowing that your dental caries have been filled with a safe and healthy substance.