• What Is Dental Amalgam?

    What is dental amalgam?

    Traditional dental amalgam is a tooth filling that is made up of silver, tin, copper and mercury. Small amounts of indium and zinc are sometimes used in the filling. The mercury that makes up approximately 50% of the amalgam is added to bind the various metals together. Amalgams have been used in dentistry for the last 150 years and have proven to be an effective filling.

    Since the development of teeth-coloured materials, amalgam is losing popularity and so being used less often. That being said, amalgam is cheaper than other options, tends to hold up better over time and withstands the stresses of chewing and daily wear.

    There have been long-running concerns over the use of mercury in creating an amalgam. Studies have been done over the years into this use of mercury but there has been no credible reason found to limit the use of amalgams aside from in children under six years old.

    Although it has been known for some time that amalgam fillings release minute amounts of mercury vapour when chewing, studies have not verified that these types of fillings are creating illness in the general population. If dental amalgam did make people sick, there would be enough evidence after over a century of use. It’s worth bearing in mind that mercury is absorbed by the human body from natural sources such as certain food, water and air but since it appears in such tiny amounts, it doesn’t have an effect on health. Mercury poisoning generally is due to exposure to large amounts in an industrial setting over a period of time.

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